With 3 games left of the regular season against the Cleveland Indians, a few thoughts as the Tigers get ready for the postseason.
Have we seen the last of Brad Penny?
Judging by the banter of some of the Tigers fans over the course of the season, he’s no longer welcome. Sure, he won today, but healthy run support has saved Penny this month, who finished his September giving up 24 runs (16 earned), good for a 7.20 ERA in just 20 innings of work. He finishes the season with an 11-11 record, and a 5.30 ERA, and probably leaves himself off of the postseason roster. Probably…
Of course, the mind of Jim Leyland can be hard to read sometimes, but in my humble opinion, I would find it hard to believe that more than 4 starters would suffice, and that would likely mean that Rick Porcello, who’s had a much better month, will be that 4th starter. Today’s other pitcher, David Pauley probably didn’t help his playoff roster cause with the 3-run HR he served up in the 8th inning of the game. And as long as we’re speculating, does a “bubble” spot go to Ryan Perry as a result? Guess we’ll have to stay tuned.
The Tigers did keep pace with the Texas Rangers today, who beat Seattle to maintain a 1 game advantage for home field in the ALDS. The Tigers can finish with the same record as the Rangers, as they hold a tiebreaker over Texas. The Rangers finish their season against a team with an outside chance at a Wild Card spot, the Los Angeles Angels.
Tigers fans may want to root the Angels on… for what it’s worth, it may lead to home field. Blasphemous, I know…
Miguel Cabrera vaulted ahead of Adrian Gonzalez today and now leads the American league in batting, now hitting .341 for the season. Cabrera, is also 1 HR from hitting number 30, as well as 10 hits away from 200 for the season. Not too many baseball pundits are talking MVP for Miggy (especially with the Justin Verlander talk) but with his incredible balance of great offensive numbers, his efforts have almost gone under-appreciated.
And let’s not leave out the other guy in the top 5 in batting in the AL, Victor Martinez, and his .323 average. Today Victor hit a 3-run HR that put him over 100 RBIs for the season, joining Miggy in that category. The Tigers have 3 players hitting at .300 or better, with a shot at having 4 at that plateau at the end of the season (Jhonny Peralta currently at .301, Alex Avila currently at .295).
No matter who the Tigers face in the ALDS, we all have to feel good about the new 1-2 punch that the rotation brings, with Justin Verlander and Doug Fister. Verlander’s shaky start vs Baltimore notwithstanding (he did settle down and finish well), those two pitching in any park, home or away, gives the Tigers a great shot to go up quickly in a short series. Of course, with the worst case scenario being that the Tigers start the ALDS on the road, if the Tigers can go up 2-0 in the short series, you give guys like Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello those home starts with less hostility (maybe) and great chances to close out in front of the home crowd.
This isn’t a case where I’m getting ahead of myself, all this is mere speculation. Wonderful, wonderful speculation.