Baseball

VS

Records: White Sox 66-86  Tigers 45-107

Game Times: Fri 6:10/Sat 5:10/Sun 12:10

TV: Fri/Sat NBCSN Sun WGN

TIGER UPPERCUT!: Bless You Boys

SERIES PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts & Pitching Staff

Series Spotlight: The Tigers Pipeline

 

I don’t hate the Tigers anymore. I really used to, back in the early part of this decade. Much like my hatred for the Vancouver Canucks and Red Wings in hockey it’s just sort of fizzled out, leaving behind a feeling of indifference bordering on pity.

The Tigers are a bad team, perhaps even historically so. With their current .420 winning percentage (heh) the Tigers fall 3rd on the list of worst teams ever since the league went to 162 games in 1961. The other two teams? Last year’s Orioles and the Tigers again in 2003. Not exactly wonderful company to be in. They’ve already past the 2003 version of themselves by 2 games, and need 2 more to tie Baltimore which seems likely but by no means a guarantee.

Detroit already set a team record this past week by losing 17 consecutive games to Cleveland this season. They won the second meeting between the two teams back on April 10th 4-1, then lost 17 in a row to them to finish the season 1-18 setting the mark in the modern era for record against a divisional opponent.

The Tigers got this bad by basically fielding a team full of less than 1 WAR players and Nick Castellanos, who they then flipped to the Cubs at the deadline as he proceeded to go on a tear the likes of never seen in Detroit. They’re dead last in the league in hitting, and the only team that has had a negative WAR production from their offense. The second worst team is the Marlins, and even they have gotten 2.3 WAR out of their hitters, compared to the -1.5 for the Tigers. If you look up the top hitters by WAR on the Tigers, only 2 players are worth more than 1, and that’s Niko Goodrum (who is out with a groin strain) and Victor Reyes. So thankfully Dylan Covey isn’t scheduled to go during the series, as you don’t wanna let an opponent up off the mat when they’re down.

The pitching staff has actually not been as awful as the hitters, currently 10th in the AL out of 15 teams, so that’s an improvement. They’ve also produced 1100% more WAR than the offense, currently sitting at 10.1 for the season. Matthew Boyd has had a solid season thus far, posting an 8-11 record with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He features a solid 4 seam fastball and a plus slider which he uses as his punchout pitch. Boyd gets a lot of swinging strikes with it, almost 36% of the time.

After Boyd it’s Spencer Turnbull (who the Sox will miss), then rookie Tyler Alexander who was called up back in June and had his first start against the Sox, in which he went 5 innings and gave up 2 with 4 Ks in a no-decision. The kid has pitched fairly well since then, going 1-3 with a 4.68 ERA and striking out 27 in 6 starts. He was relegated to long relief for a time during August but is now back starting and will go head to head with Nova Saturday.

As for the Sox, the story continues to be the production of The Future™ in the top half of the lineup. Tim Anderson continues his quest for the AL batting title and sits .006 in front of DJ LeMahieu. Right behind LeMahieu is the outfielder the Sox didn’t want in the off-season, Michael Brantley. Hard charging a few behind him is last year’s favorite bust declaration by Sox Twitter Yoan Moncada, who is tearing the shit out of the ball in September to the tune of a .460/.500/.667 slash line.

Taking the mound for the Pale Hose will be Dylan Cease, Ivan Nova and Reynaldo Lopez who basically comprise the only starts worth watching for the rest of the season. Cease should find the waters a bit calmer against the moribund Tigers offense, and maybe help build some confidence in his fastball location.

On paper this should be an easy series for the Sox, but nothing on paper has ever worked out that way for Rick Hahn and company. I just want a batting title for Timmy, and this pitching staff should help with that goal.

 

Let’s Go Sox.

 

 

Baseball

The Detroit Tigers are a bad baseball team. There aren’t many people out there who would argue otherwise with you, and if they did odds are they’re huffing paint outside the wreckage of Tigers stadium. Even the Tigers themselves know this, and are OK with it. For a long time, the team was very similar to the White Sox of the late 2000-2013 era. The farm system was treated like a debit card, to be swiped whenever a piece needed to be added to the roster at the deadline for a playoff run.

Much like most debit cards, there was a limit. The Tigers bottomed out of that limit at the end of the 2014 season, their last appearance in the playoffs where they were broomed right out by the Baltimore Orioles (another team that sits at rock bottom right now). This last push by the Tigers was the result of Mike Ilitch desperately wanting to win a World Series before passing away (which he eventually did in February of 2017). For the next few years the Tigers were in the sort of limbo that kills the future of baseball franchises; not bad enough to get the high ranked young talent in the draft, but not good enough to go anywhere in the playoffs.

Finally in 2017 with Ilitch dead and gone, the Tigers bit the bullet and decided for a full rebuild. The problem at that point was that all of their best talent was either on the last year of their deals (Justin Upton), in the middle of the worst stretch of their careers (Justin Verlander), or just too damn expensive and old (Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez). So the return for all these guys was not going to be the type that can jump start a rebuild and shorten it by a few years like (hopefully) the White Sox got for trading Sale, Q, and Eaton (remember forever that the Sox got Giolito and Lopez for Adam fucking Eaton).

This left the Tigers with one option, that being the “suck so bad you build through the draft” one, which is exactly what they’ve done. It’s been an ugly few years on the west side of Detroit Rock City, but it’s yielded results in terms of farm system rankings. To start the year, most analysts had the Tigers somewhere around the 10-11th best system in the league. After re-ranking the teams after the trade deadline and adjusting for some callups around MLB the Tigers now are just outside of the top 5, usually around the 6-7 position. Jim Callis of MLB.COM has the Tigers at 6th best in the league after all the deadline shakeups.

Sitting in the 1 and 2 spots for Detroit in the farm system rankings are former #1 pick Casey Mize (and #2 overall in prospect rankings) and Matt Manning, both of whom are right handed pitchers. Mize had some shoulder issues this year, but when healthy dominated the hitters of high A level and AA. He will begin next season (shoulder permitting) at AAA and much like Dylan Cease end up on the big league roster at some point after June. Manning has progressed on a very similar path, laying waste to the AA level this season and earning a few honors along the way, including Eastern League Pitcher Of The Year and Baseball America’s pick for best Tigers minor league player.

Six of the top ten spots in the Tigers minor league rankings are reserved for pitchers. Beau Burrows, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez will all be throwing at the AA level or higher next season and Burrows may even break camp with the squad next March. Which is good for the Tigers, as they currently sit in the bottom 3rd of the AL in pitching, and without the breakout year from Matthew Boyd they might be sniffing Orioles territory.

For position players, the crop is lead by outfielder Riley Greene who’s the only Tigers position player currently in the top 100 ranked prospects in MiLB. Green is a solid contact hitter with solid power that projects out to 25+ dingers a year. His athletic tools grade out positively as well, but the kid is only 18 and probably can’t be counted on before 2021 at the earliest.

The next two callups for the Tigers offensively seem to be catcher Jake Rogers and SS Isaac Paredes, both of whom would be upgrades for the major league team as it stands. The rest are works in progress, pushing the Tigers window for contention back past 2022 which works well for the White Sox as it stands. Bless You Boys has a good rundown of the rest of the position player prospects for the Tigers here if you want to check it out.

The risk for Detroit having such a pitching-heavy top half of their system was apparent back in June when Mize was pulled from a game with shoulder pain that caused a collective gasp among the Tigers faithful. Fearing the worst, he was sent to Dr. James Death-Andrews and was given a diagnosis of shoulder inflammation. He pitched for another month and a half and then was shut down for the team for precautionary measures. Manning has so far avoided the injury bug that seems to plague young arms in the lower levels but there are no guarantees. If all breaks well for the Tigers they could have an amazing rotation in a few years. If they end up with the kind of luck the White Sox have had over the past 12 months, the window for them could be pushed even further back. With a team like the Tigers hard to watch enough as it is, it could spell doom for their attendance, which was already down almost 21% from 2017 to 2018.

The Tigers have charted a path through risky waters, but really no rebuild is guaranteed success. Their ultimate timeline will probably be more clear next June when they pick once again in the top 5 of the entry draft. If they take a polished college player like the Sox did with Andrew Vaughn it signals they expect to be competitive sooner rather than later. If they go a different route, it may signal another few long winters for the Tigers faithful. That would be quite all right with me.

Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: White Sox 7, Tigers 4

Game 2 Box Score: White Sox 5, Tigers 3

Game 3 Box Score: Tigers 10, White Sox 6

Game 4 Box Score: White Sox 8, Tigers 1

Of course the contingent of asshole White Sox fans on this blog would leave a Sox-Tigers recap for me. Because what the fuck do you learn about a team when they’re playing a softball team from a company that’s already been liquidated? There might not be one useful player in the everyday lineup for the Tigers, and only a couple on the pitching staff. This team is headed for an end of season that will scare children for years. I guess it’s better than where the Sox were last week, getting their dick kicked in by the Mets. But apparently everyone is getting their dick kicked in by the Mets now. That’s a thing we’re just letting happen as a society. Anyway, I’ll do my best.

-I guess you have to rejoice that Dylan Cease didn’t back up against this lineup, if that were even possible. And he only walked one in five innings, but he still needed 101 pitches to get through those five innings. Cease is still relying on trying to power through ABs and counts, which is not a long term strategy for success. It’s fine against the decommissioned county fair of the Tigers, but against actual teams he’s still going to have problems.

-Second of a double-header with these teams, where Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey pitched, and they throw in an hour rain delay. Who said the gods didn’t have a sense of humor?

-Have yourself a series, Tim Anderson. Nine hits in three games, as he didn’t play in the nightcap Tuesday. I guess if I was really picky I would point out that only one was for extra-bases, and Anderson has to hit a ton of fucking singles to be a productive hitter and even that might just make you Juan Pierre and you don’t want him to be Juan Pierre, but let’s leave that for another time.

-Ivan Nova keeps rolling, which means…nothing? I guess it’s nothing.

-Signs of life from James McCann? Seven hits in three games for him, and maybe returning to where he was was something of an inspiration. That gives him a .409 average in August after a .173 July.

-Still, striking out seven times in three innings against a returning Spencer Turnbull, really the only pitcher the Sox saw, is less than encouraging.

The important thing is that it’s over and we can move on with our lives. Let’s do that.

 

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: White Sox 48-61   Tigers 32-75

GAMETIMES: Monday 6:10, Tuesday 12:20 and 6:10, Wednesday 12:10

TV: NBCSN Monday and both Tuesday, WGN Wednesday

THAT NERD LOOKS LIKE JAM: Bless You Boys

PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts and Pitching Staffs

Matthew Boyd Spotlight

There is something a little cruel about the Sox and Tigers matching up in the dead of August, and there’s something outright sadistic about making them play a doubleheader on Tuesday. Then again, there’s something poetic about it as well. How can you not get romantic about baseball?

Well, you could watch the Tigers regularly, for one. This is a team that’s going to have an end to the season written by Dante. They traded the one hitter they had to the Cubs in Nicholas Castellanos, and there is nothing left behind here. Miguel Cabrera has lost most of his power and he needs a Rascal to get to first base, which he doesn’t do as often as you’d think. There isn’t any hitter here that has even an average wRC+ other than Brandon Dixon, who has been relegate to backup duty.

What the Tigers have to be selling is that there are some kids up, but even that’s a stretch. Travis Demeritte was part of the return for Shane Green, but he has only 90 good games at AAA after two barely “meh” years at AA. Victory Reyes barely did anything at the AAA level either, but he’s here in left. Jake Rogers has taken over the catching duties, and he tore AA apart for 30 games, but was middling at Triple-A as well before getting the call. To say there are going to be some bumps would be the height of politeness.

The one thing the Tigers can do is throw some starters at you, as the Sox will see both Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull this series, the latter coming off the IL today. They’ll miss out on the ace, Matthew Boyd though. Those three have been serviceable to great, and even that hasn’t kept the Tigers from being the worst team in baseball. Wait until they start conserving these guys’ innings. However, again, in the rotation only Tyler Alexander is 25 or below, and it’s worthy to ask if any of these guys will ever pitch a game that matters at Comerica.

As you might expect with a team this bad, the bullpen is full of kids who pee in the sandbox at recess, and even more so now that it’s been shorn of Green. Whatever work the starters do is likely to be undone when they hand the ball off, not that it will matter that much because it’s likely the offense will have only provided a run or two at most. The last two months here are just going to be hilarious, as long as you’re not a Tigers fan.

For the Sox, they’ll trot out Hector Santiago to fill in for the doubleheader on Tuesday, while Giolito, Cease, and Nova get the softest landing possible. The pen could probably use a reset after whatever that was in Philadelphia.

This one’s for the diehards only. You know who you are.

Baseball

It’s hard to fathom that the Tigers could be worse than they are. This is a team that somehow found a way to be four games worse than the Orioles so far, and the Os are going to give up 300 homers this season. But the Motor City Felines really could be, as they’ve gotten decent work from the rotation that’s been the flower growing out of the concrete of the dump. Matthew Boyd especially, along with Daniel Norris (scourge of the Cubs) and Spencer Turnbull have put in more than decent work, and without them one wonders if the Tigers would even have 25 wins by now.

You can sort of see why the Tigers held onto any or all of them, because someone has to take the ball now and later when they might matter again. The question is if that’s going to be Boyd.

Boyd is certainly having a breakout year, with career-bests in ERA, FIP, WAR, strikeout rate, and walk rate. Boyd seems to have gotten there by becoming Patrick Corbin West, as he’s eschewed a curve he used to use for using his slider about a third of the time the past two seasons, when he had never even used it more than 11% of the time in his first few years in the majors. Boyd has had a huge spike in whiffs-per-swing on it, rising to 33.3% last year and 42.1% this year. According to FanGraphs, and really digging into the nerd-numbers, it’s been the fifth-most valuable slider this year, behind Corbin himself, Verlander, Scherzer, and Tanaka. Those first three names are ones you want to be amongst in any category, even as one as specific as this.

The real key for Boyd has been that he’ll throw that slider in any count, where before it was mostly used as a put-away pitch. There is no such thing as a fastball count these days, and Boyd is just another example of that, more than happy to throw his slider behind in the count than before. Before he threw it a third of the time when behind or even in a count, and now both of those are around or above 40%. If it’s getting that many whiffs, why not?

Again, the numbers suggest that the Tigers have a real piece here and he’s something to build around. Here’s the kicker though; he’s 28. So while he figures to have at least a couple more good years left, how many will he have left when the Tigers are actually good again? That’s at least three years down the line, when Boyd will be 31. Corbin, with his similar repertoire, is 30, and still going strong, but slider-heavy pitchers tend to fall off a cliff pretty quickly (we present Chris Archer as Exhibit A).

Boyd is only arbitration eligible this winter, and not a free agent until another three seasons after that, so it costs the Tigers pretty much nothing to see how long he can keep this up. And during any one of those arb years they can still move Boyd along for a bonanza if he continues to pitch at this level. Years of control add layers of value to a trade piece.

Still, it’s awfully sunny to think that he’ll be this good for four more years when he cashes in, whether that’s with the Tigers or not. He is only throwing fastball-slider now and it’s hard to see how he’d adjust when that doesn’t work as well, though to be fair to him it’s not like he blows away people with his fastball now. It might have plunged the Tigers into the depths that no one’s ever seen…except for the Tigers themselves when they lost 119 games.

If you’re going to go whole hog on a rebuild, go whole hog. They still might yet.

Baseball

BOX SCORES:

Game 1: Rain Out

Game 2: White Sox 7 – Tigers 5

Game 3: White Sox 9 – Tigers 6 (12 Innings)

Game 4: White Sox 5 – Tigers 11

 

Wow.  Lots to talk about here, from Dylan Cease’s first ever MLB start and win, to Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada refusing to let the Sox lose in game 2 of the doubleheader, to Reynaldo Lopez’ continued struggles in game 3 today.  There’s a lot to be excited about, and the double comeback win in game 2 is the kind of rally that fans of the team will remember for a long time.  It was FifthFeather in fact who tweeted that the game forcibly reminded him of the Christmas Blackhawks game in 2007 against the Oilers which was the birth of the Hawks tremendous run throughout the 2010s.  Let’s hope this is in that vein, as the core group of guys seems to have a little something special going on.  The quest for .500 continues, and the Sox edge ever closer.  To the bullets!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-I used the title above in reference to my favorite WWF moment ever, when Mick Foley won his first World Title on Monday Night Raw, January of 1999.  Foley (then in his Mankind persona) was facing off against The Rock (then the Corporate Champion of Vince McMahon) in a no DQ match.  Just when it looks like Foley is going to lose, the glass shattering beginning of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music hits and the place goes apeshit.  Austin tees off on the Rock’s head with a chair and rolls Foley over for the 1-2-3.  It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd before, and Moncada and Abreu’s home runs in extra innings reminded me of this moment.  You could almost hear the glass break as Abreu somehow turned a low and away changeup from Nick Ramierez and pulled it into the Sox bullpen.  Just like on Raw, the Comiskey crowd goes ballistic and it gives me chills.  It’s probably the most exciting moment this team has had since Thome’s bomb in the blackout game against the Twins.  In a way, those 2 home runs may end up serving as bookends for the rebuild.  Let’s hope.

-Yoan Moncada also homered from both sides of the plate that night, the one from the left side being the most impressive (not just because it tied the game), as he absolutely murdered a cutter off Tigers closer Shane Green and put it 462 feet away from home plate.  I know the ball is juiced, but goddam that was a sight to behold.

-Lest we forget, Dylan Cease had his first ever major league start AND win.  He worked 5 innings, 4 of which were more than acceptable.  He came in the first, clearly bothered by nerves walking 2 and plunking one.  This resulted in the only two runs he gave up until he hung a curveball to Jeimer Candelario in the 5th.  He didn’t let that faze him, however, as he then mowed down Harold Castro with a nasty curveball after that.  He was still overthrowing his fastball, but I feel now with the first start out of the way that should abate.  His curveball is plus stuff, and his change has some sick movement on it.  I’m eager to see what he can do from here on out.

-It wasn’t all roses and dingers however.  Reynaldo Lopez had another shit outing, giving up 6 and only going 5.1 innings.  His off speed stuff just wasn’t where it needed to be, so the Tigers just zeroed in on his fastball and crushed it.  The bullpen didn’t fare any better, as noted arsonist Juan Minaya came in and promptly gave up 2 more runs.  Renteria didn’t have a whole lot of options however, what with the double header and extra innings games the previous day.

-Daniel Palka should never start in front of Zack Collins again.  If someone plays shitty defense at 1st base and bats below the Mendoza line, I’d rather have it be a prospect then the journeyman.  Seriously, Palka is hitting .022 right now.  What about him says “play him over our first round draft pick?”

-Yolmer Sanchez was heating up at the plate, so naturally someone stepped on his hand today and he had to leave the game.  Hopefully he doesn’t miss much time.

-Next up is the Cubbies and another chance to blow past .500 so I’m sure it’ll be a split.  Onwards!

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Tigers 27-52   White Sox 39-42

GAMETIMES: Tuesday 7:10, Wednesday 1:10/7:10, Thursday 1:10

TV: WGN Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, NBCSN Wednesday night and Thursday

HAVEN’T RELOCATED TO NASHVILLE YET: Bless You Boys

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Matthew Boyd vs. Reynaldo Lopez

Daniel Norris vs. Dylan Cease

TBD vs. Ross Detwiler

TBD vs. Ivan Nova

PROBABLE TIGERS LINEUP

JaCoby Jones – CF

Nicholas Castellanos – RF

Miguel Cabrera – DH

Christin Stewart – LF

Jeimer Candelario – 3B

Brandon Dixon – 1B

Nick Goodrum – SS

Gordon Beckham – 2B

Bobby Wilson – C

PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – SS

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

James McCann – C

Jon Jay – RF

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Jose Rondon – DH

Yolmer Sanches – 2B

Ryan Cordell – CF

 

After dealing with teams at or near the top of their divisions or in the playoff chase for the past three weeks (yes, even the Cubs), the Sox get a three-day, four-game break against the Tigers, who along with the Royals are basically cleaning the septic tanks of the AL Central. For the Tigers now it’s about who is going to go between now and the trade deadline, which could be just about anyone. Too bad they picked a year when the Royals and Orioles are doing it better than they are.

Let’s start with the White Sox, who will unveil Dylan Cease on Wednesday afternoon. You couldn’t find a softer landing for a debut than the first game of a double-header against the Tigers, which is probably why the Sox picked it. Cease is up for good, or so the Sox say, even though his numbers in Charlotte aren’t that impressive. But at this point, the Sox are just running out of guys, so why not? The reports were that Cease was still powering his way out of trouble instead of pitching, which won’t fly against most other teams in the majors, but he can learn that just as easily at this level as he can at AAA. Cease’s Ks were down and walks up this year from his previous seasons, so the fear is that will rip and explode at the top level. We know the stuff is there, it’s about learning the approach now.

Not only are the Tigers purposely stinky, they’re beat up too. Michael Fullmer is a long-term casualty, and Josh Harrison and Daniel Norris are either out or iffy as well. Offensively, this is really about Castellanos and no one else. He’s the only one having an above-average season, as Cabrera heads for the retirement home.

On the rotation side, one of the bright spots in Spencer Turnbull has also landed on the injured list with shoulder fatigue. Other than him, there’s Matthew Boyd and then a pile of goo. Boyd has one of the best K/BB ratios in baseball, striking out over 11 hitters per nine and walking less than two.

The pen? It’s Shane Greene and his 22 saves and then an even bigger pile of goo.

Four against the Tigers and then closing out the first “half” against the Cubs who can’t get unfucked for money. Could that elusive burst past .500 be waiting finally?

Baseball

When teams are trying to come up with any other reason for draining the free agent market other than collusion or straight-up greed, we suppose they could use Miguel Cabrera’s contract as a cudgel. No one wants to locked into paying a hitter in his late 30s $25M or $30M while they slowly turn purple in the sun. Although it’s working out ok for Joey Votto. Not so much the case for Miggy.

Cabrera will go down as one of the best right-handed hitters of his era, and if it wasn’t for Mike Trout and whatever planet exiled him here, you wouldn’t find anyone better. Since joining the Tigers in 2008, only Trout and Votto have surpassed Miggy in WAR and offensive runs. He was the heartbeat of a string of great Tigers teams that won four AL Centrals in a row (before the Dodgers made that kind of thing de rigueur). Miggy wasn’t ever able to bring home a World Series and fulfill the dream of Mike Illitch (the one other than robbing the poor citizens of Detroit blind), but that wasn’t really on him.

What made Miggy so entertaining in dangerous is he did it all at the plate. He walked, he didn’t strike out, and he was just as likely to cut your heart out with a simple opposite-field single to score two than some bomb into the concourse. There was nowhere to go to get him out consistently, and he was more than happy to continually take whatever was on offer.

So while Miggy’s contract is ugly now, one wonders what the Tigers were supposed to do. Surely sentimentality still has a place in sports somewhere, and Cabrera is the greatest Tiger since…well, ever? Ok, not Ty Cobb. And maybe Trammel and Whitaker have claim to the previous era. Kaline and all that. Still, it won’t be long after he retires that Miggy’s number is going up on the wall at Comerica. At the time of signing, Miggy was the most feared hitter in the game or thereabouts, so maybe his decline was also off in the distance. It was 2013, remember. Could they really have just let him walk away? The cold-hearted calculations say they should have, but that doesn’t work all the time in the real world. It was also hard to see in 2013, when Cabrera signed the extension that didn’t kick in for another three seasons. It was overexuberant for sure, and perhaps a lesson every team might have taken too much to heart.

That said, the Tigers are still on the hook for $30M for four seasons each after this one, and this one is ugly. And that’s after Miggy missed all but 36 games last year, and it’s clear the effects are lingering. Miggy is struggling through knee problems this year after the groin injury last year, and now he can’t play in the field for the rest of the season. Not that Miggy ever really could, but the Tigers will have to bend their lineups around him once again. Good thing for the Tigers it doesn’t really matter.

As it does with most older players in an ever-speeding world, Cabrera can’t deal with velocity as well. Cheating for it has left him swinging at pitches out of the zone far more than he ever has in his career, and that’s led to some pretty horrific numbers on curveballs. Miggy still hits the ball hard (40% hard-contact rate), and he was above 40% well before just about everyone was. Miggy is walking less than ever, striking out more than ever, and hitting for less power than ever.

The Tigers are in just at the start of a rebuild, so he’s not costing them wins they might need. And maybe he sells a few tickets to fans who know it’s going to be a couple years at least before games in downtown Detroit matter again. But if it’s two years, what do you do then? With his physical condition, it’s highly unlikely that Cabrera can reclaim his former glory again.

Perhaps an injury settlement. Perhaps an unspoken agreement if Miggy retires that he’ll still get the money. The money’s gone, the only hope is there isn’t some standoff between player and team if he wants to keep playing but the Tigers want to move on. No one’s going to take that contract, no matter how much of it the Tigers are willing to eat. And that’s if Miggy ever hits again, which hie might not.

Perhaps if they got that World Series, it would be less unpleasant. Maybe it won’t be unpleasant at all, given what Cabrera meant to the Tigers. Before Miggy, the Tigers hadn’t won a division since 1987 (though they did go to a World Series as a wildcard, the only year in that stretch they’d won over 90 games).

No one ever gets the ending they want.

Baseball

Holy shit, what a weird-ass series.  Night one featured some weapons grade wackiness, and one call that I’ve never seen before in MLB. Night two never happened because it fucking snowed the last Saturday in April, and Sunday featured the White Sox setting a team record for Ks in a game.  There’s a lot to unpack, especially with only two games to talk about.

TO THE BULLETS

Carlos Rodon had a night he probably wants to have Total Recalled from his memory.  Everything he threw was barreled up hard by the Tigers, and quite a few of them left the yard.  After his previous two performances I’m willing to chalk this one up to just not having it, but he’s yet to make it through the 7th inning and that’s mildly concerning.

Jose Abreu had a memorable night for multiple reasons, first of which was that he poked a dinger over the left-center field fence, but was too busy watching the flight of the ball to notice that Tim Anderson was also watching the flight of the ball and preparing to tag up from first base.  So nobody was watching anybody since Mr Boston missed Jose chugging down the line, inadvertently passing Timmy at first base and getting not only Anderson out, but having his HR turned into the weirdest single in Sox history. This also cost the Sox at least one run, which the Tigers managed to scrape back immediately the next inning.  That was all right because it set the stage for…

-TIM ANDERSON’S BAT FLIPPING, GAME WINNING EXTRAVAGANZA.  Seriously, I’m falling in love with this guy. I hope he starts throwing the bat farther and farther every dinger until he knocks out a kid up on the Skillz Deck.  He’s the kind of guy the Sox have been missing since Sale left; the type of player who people buy tickets to see.  Butts in seats, baby.

-The night was not all roses and cherry bombs (T-T-T-TIMMY BOMBZ!  Sorry Sam).  Unfortunately, Eloy Jimenez managed to sprain his ankle trying to rob the 5th HR given up by Rodon that night.  Honestly, he was about two miles away from even touching the ball, so it was kind of a useless gesture.  It was later diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, so we will see just how long Young Skywalker will be out of action, but were I to guess I’m thinking its gonna be June-ish

– Game 2 was fucking SNOWED OUT.  Seriously, spring can bite my ass.

-Game 3 was all about the Lopez four-seamer.  The Kid had all of his pitches working today, but none more so than the 4 seamer.  He threw it 69 times today (NICE), and used it as his punch out pitch on 13 of the 14 Ks he had.  This might be the best I’ve ever seen him throw the ball, and he’s improved on every start this season.  Once he realized home plate umpire Tony Randazzo was going to give him the outside corner, he was spotting his pitches right on the edge of the black all game long.  His last strikeout happened on the 104th pitch, and he touched 96 with it.  The Sox rotation needed a start like this, especially after DFA’ing Ervin Santana a few days earlier.

Alex Colome worked the 9th in both games and came away with a win and a save.  Can’t complain about that trade at all, as he’s come as advertised.
-Jose Abreu seems to be shaking off his slump nicely, as he went 6 for 8 with 5 RBIs (should’ve been 7).  Now if we only had a league average OF to talk about this team might be sniffing .500

-The Sox now stand at 11-14, with 2 more games against the Orioles due up.  Don’t stop now, boys!

Baseball

You’ll have to excuse me a bit, and I will not make this a habit. But with both teams in town playing the same teams they played last weekend, there isn’t that much to discuss. So we’ll just combine these into one preview, and you’ll give me a pass, and we’ll all be very happy. Besides, how much do you really want to read about the Detroit Tigers? Exactly.

First, the series happening locally:

vs.

RECORDS: Tigers 12-12   White Sox 9-14

GAMETIMES: 7:10 Friday, 6:10 Saturday, 1:10 Sunday

TV: NBCSN Friday and Sunday, WGN Saturday

SONS OF SPARKY: Bless You Boys

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Daniel Norris vs. Carlos Rodon

Ryan Carpenter vs. Reynaldo Lopez

Matthew Boyd vs. Manny Banuelos

PROBABLE TIGERS LINEUP

Jeimer Candelario – 3B

Nicholas Castellanos – RF

Miguel Cabrera – 1B

Niko Goodrum – LF

Brandon Dixon – DH

Ronny Rodriguez – SS

Gordon Beckham – 2B

Greyson Greiner – C

JaCoby Jones – CF

 

PROBABLE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – CF

Tim Anderson – SS

Jose Abreu – 1B

James McCann – C

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Yonder Alonso – DH

Jose Rondon – 2B

Ryan Cordell – RF

 

Who doesn’t love more Tigers? Then again, this didn’t go so well for the White Sox in downtown Detroit (then again, when does it?). The Sox were awfully charitable to Daniel Norris last Sunday, where he tossed five shutout innings for his first win in over a year. There’s being nice and there’s being a doormat.

The Tigers took both halves of a doubleheader in Fenway after dealing with the Sox, but then lost the next two games to the still-trying-to-care Red Sox. Because of that DH, they’ll be calling up Carpenter to take a spot start on Saturday to keep Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull on their normal rest. The Tigers offense is starting to sputter out, with Castellanos hitting .200 over the last week and JaCoby Jones hitting .091. Josh Harrison has been hot over the past seven days though, along with Brandon Dixon.

For the Sox, Rodon gets to try and add to his excellent start to the season, with only one bad start in five and even that was only four earned runs. He held these Tigers to just one run over six last time out, and maybe just maybe is starting to look like something. The hope is that Reynaldo Lopez has turned a corner as well, as his last two starts have seen him surrender three runs in 12 innings while striking out 13 and walking two. Certainly an upgrade over how the season started for him.

Eloy Jimenez returns from bereavement leave tonight, he missed the Baltimore series. Oh, and it’s supposed to snow tomorrow, which seems just about perfect for a Sox-Tigers series, doesn’t it?

vs.

RECORDS: Cubs 12-11   Diamondbacks 15-11

GAMETIMES: Friday 8:40, Saturday 7:10, Sunday 3:10

TV: NBCSN Friday, ABC Saturday, WGN Sunday

UNPAINTED HUFFHINES: AZ Snakepit

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Kyle Hendricks vs. Robbie Ray

Yu Darvish vs. Zack Godley

Jose Quintan vs. Luke Weaver

PROBABLE CUBS LINEUP

Albert Almora – CF

Kris Bryant – LF

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Willson Contreras – C

David Bote – 3B

Daniel Descalso – 2B

Jason Heyward – RF

 

PROBABLE DIAMONDBACKS LINEUP

Jarred Dyson – CF

Eduardo Escobar – 3B

David Peralta – LF

Adam Jones – RF

Christian Walker – 1B

Ketel Marte – 2B

Nick Ahmed – SS

Carson Kelly – C

Meanwhile, the Cubs head out on a very convenient trip to Arizona followed by a short jaunt the width of the nation to Seattle before settling in St. Louis next week. They’ll catch a Diamondbacks team that swept the Pirates in Pittsburgh after exiting Chicago, which sent the Pirates away from the top spot of the Central and handed it to West East St. Louis. They gave up all of seven runs over four games, so the staff is rolling.

The Cubs will catch a break in missing Greinke this time around as they didn’t have an answer for him last Saturday. Godley is one they didn’t see last week, and much like Robbie Ray the key to him is just waiting him out. He’s walking nearly five hitters per nine innings, though is having terrible luck with an abundance of runners getting all the way around the bases. The Cubs will also get introduced to Luke Weaver, whom they missed last week. Weaver has been dominant so far this season, getting five Ks for every walk and 50% ground-balls. Weaver has a wicked change that he pairs with a plus-fastball and cutter, and was the centerpiece of the Goldschmidt deal. So get to Ray and Godley before having to deal with that shit.

The D-Backs offense went to town on the Bucs, putting up a 12- and 11-spot in that series. Everyone aside from Ahmed comes in hot to this one, and whatever they call that thing with the pool in Phoenix these days has generally been a hitter’s paradise. Gotta keep it rolling.