Detroit Tigers Spring Training
3/14/12: New York Mets at Detroit Tigers
Dylan Gee vs. Max Scherzer
It’s that time of year, where baseball games are back on TV, and the talking heads can astound us all with their innate ability to not get a single thing right when they’re not talking about the Yankees or Red Sox. As such, I bring you the first in-depth recap of Tigers baseball for the 2012 season. Unlike previous recaps, this Spring Training recap will focus solely on the Tigers, and not on the Mets, as well. The reason for this is because I don’t know enough about the Mets (yet) to discuss them with any sort of authority, and because of injuries in the Mets’ lineup they played with more minor league players than anyone will ever know or care about. But don’t worry, because I’ll be doing many more in-depth recaps of games throughout the 2012 season, and give you a good look at all the teams involved.
Pitching Recap – Tigers
Starting for the Tigers today was Max Scherzer. Scherzer had a pretty good year in 2011, ending with a record of 15-9. Because it is Spring Training (and still early on, too), you can’t get too good of a look at starters because they’re kept to very strict pitch counts. Scherzer got into a bit of trouble in the first and second innings, giving up hits and putting runners on base. But, he worked out of it in both of those innings, keeping the Mets off the board. In the third inning, however, Scherzer got into some real trouble, loading the bases and being pulled from the game. Casey Crosby came in after him, and allowed all three baserunners to score, leaving Scherzer with three earned runs. Crosby was given one earned run of his own in a little over two innings of work.
Once Crosby came out, the minor league trio of Hoffman, Rondon, and Villareal handled the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. Rondon gave up an earned run on three walks, which ultimately tied the game and would send it into an extra inning. Daniel Schlereth pitched the ninth and tenth innings without trouble.
1. Pitcher Final Lines – Tigers
Scherzer— 2 2/3 IP; 4 H; 3 ER; 4 K; 2 BB
Crosby—2 1/3 IP; 2 H; 1 ER; 1 K; 3 BB
Hoffman—2 IP; 2 H; 1 ER; 2 K; 2 BB
Rondon—1/3 IP; 0 H; 1 ER; 0 K; 3 BB
Villareal—2/3 IP; 0 H; 0 ER; 2 K; 0 BB
Schlereth—2 IP; 0 H; 0 ER; 2 K; 1 BB
2. Pitching Final Thoughts – Tigers
Max Scherzer is actually the pitcher that I’m most interested to see this season, because he has great stuff…if he can find the plate. More often than not, he can. But there is that occasional game where he just totally falls apart. Today was one of those games. Now, I know that it’s early in Spring Training still, and that pitchers are trying to get their form back, make any corrections or tweaks that they are trying to get better at what they do, and (for a lot of them) show that they belong in the big club. But at the same time, it’s not that early. Spring Training started almost two weeks ago. Pitchers don’t pitch three innings, then go sit on the bench for five days. They go cool down, play catch after they get done pitching, and then play catch and have a bullpen session on their off days. They’re always staying loose and in top form. Which is why it wasn’t all that okay that Scherzer could barely find the plate today.
He can’t go into the season still struggling with his control. Verlander and Fister are going to be great at the top of the rotation. But to expect of them the kind of work they put together last season would be ludicrous. They’re only human, and players, coaches, and fans should have human expectations of them. Which means that if J.V. can’t come up with 24 wins again, Scherzer is going to have to get a few more of them. Not to mention that he’s arbitration eligible in 2013. Which means that if he wants to see a monetary increase, then he’d better perform like he deserves it. Control issues and 13-15 wins, while good, won’t be quite enough this year.
Crosby, Hoffman, Rondon, and Villareal are the reasons I don’t like Spring Training. Not the men, per se, but the fact that after the starter throws three innings (and maybe one guaranteed bullpen pitcher), it becomes a minor league game. Minor league pitchers take over, and I personally lose interest. I love the Tigers, but I don’t follow (nor care to follow) the Mud Hens, the Sea Wolves, the Whitecaps, or the Flying Tigers. I get that a minor league system is important, but I don’t pay for tickets or take time out of the day to watch games to see No-Name #1, 2, and 3 pitch at least half of the game. Granted, by the time they come in, the lineups themselves are basically minor league only, and that’s an issue too. I want to watch nine innings played by those that will actually have an impact on the season. Maybe Crosby will get a spot-start somewhere in July, or Audy Ciriaco will get a callup to temper an injured player’s D.L. time. But they’re not likely to be the players that will make a difference this year. That’s going to be Cabrera, Fielder, Peralta, Avila, etc. When it gets to be the eighth inning and the other team has put in minor league players, you should put in Coke or Benoit and give them a very easy inning or two to help their progress.
The only pitcher that was worth watching today after Scherzer was Schlereth. I’m not saying that he’s good (although he did an adequate job today), but of all the pitchers not named Max Scherzer today, he’s the only one that’s pretty much guaranteed to be in Detroit on Opening Day. If Schlereth could pitch all year like he did today, then I’d be a happy camper. (Although that would require the opposing teams to keep their lineup stocked with minor league players only.)
Hitting Recap – Tigers
Dylan Gee came out looking very good for the Mets today, and got the Tigers in order quickly in the first inning (including a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera). But that was the end of any quick work for a Mets pitcher. Prince Fielder and Delmon Young contributed back-to-back singles in the second, but Young was quickly erased, as Alex Avila ground into a double play. Young would have one more hit on the, as well as two RBIs. Fielder would add two more hits, including two-run homerun in the fourth inning. Quentin Berry collected two quiet hits and an RBI, while Audy Ciriaco had one hit. The Tigers ultimately won the game 7-6 in ten innings of work.
- Hitting Final Thoughts—Tigers
The first thing to notice is that the number of RBIs given to players does not match the total number of runs scored by the Tigers’ offense in this game. There were a lot of errors at key points by the Mets, especially in the fourth and fifth inning. There were four runs attributed to James in his one inning of work for the Mets, and yet not a single run was earned. That shows just what terrible fielding the Mets were getting today. Especially when they were up 4-0 in the third inning.
The best part of the actual hitters, however, came when Cabrera and Fielder made a statement about what’s going to happen to teams all season long. While he did strike out in the first, Cabrera worked two walks in his other at-bats. It was that first walk in the fourth inning that made the Mets regret not finding the strike zone a little bit more. Cabrera walked, and the Fielder took a pitch deep to right field. That’s going to happen a lot this year, and Cabrera is going to get a lot of good pitches to hit.
Like the pitching after the fifth inning, the hitting became a minor league matchup as well. Nothing much happened, and no one did anything to help the Tigers’ cause. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why Peralta or Raburn or Jackson couldn’t have pinch hit and been in the field late in that game. It’s just a gripe with the whole Spring Training vehicle, I guess. I suppose it makes sure that players don’t take any chances with injuries with so much time left to play baseball.
Tigers vs. Mets – Final Thoughts
It wasn’t a pretty game for Scherzer, but the Cabrera-Fielder tandem worked to perfection. I can’t wait for the games that are televised in the next couple weeks, since the minor league players will start to be cut in earnest, and the regular 25-man roster will get more playing time. Either way, I can’t wait for baseball to start so very, very soon.