As if you haven’t figured out by now, things aren’t going well for the Tigers at the present time. It was a very strange 8-game losing streak in that every game except one seems to have hinged on a single moment (the one exception being the finale against the Rays), but it is a losing streak nonetheless (and that’s a story for another post). It’s only natural that the word “sell” starts to creep into writers’ minds. Al Avila has gone on record saying that they are “open for discussions,” which is about as vague a comment as you can get. Seriously, is there any point in time (other than possibly October) when a team is NOT open for discussion? Still, it raises an important question: What do they mean when they say “sell?” If you’ve been reading much of the local sports media, they’ll have you believe it’s nothing short of full rebuild. I can’t say for sure what’s in the front office’s mind, but I find this approach to be ill-advised and unnecessary (and I’ll get into some of the reasons shortly). Rather, if they don’t get things turned around, I think a much better approach would be to do something akin to what they did in 2015, which was to trade away impending free agents, and I’ll even include guys whose contracts are up at the end of next season. I call this the mini-sell, and I have very specific criteria for how to go about doing it. Now, I have not thrown in the towel yet on this season. I am much too obstinate and stubborn to give up with this much time left until the trade deadline, so for now, think of this as a contingency plan if things continue to go south. And without further ado, I bring you my rules for the mini-sell:
A day after another forgettable outing in a long string of forgettable outings, the Tigers decided they had finally seen enough of their erstwhile closer, Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod, if you missed it, was called upon to keep the Tigers close in a 5-3 game, but quickly loaded and unloaded the bases, giving up a grand slam to Robinson Canó. Afterwards, he declined to speak to the media. One suspected it might not be long until the other shoe dropped.
And indeed it did.
Today, the Tigers finally severed ties with K-Rod, ending a (recently) fraught relationship full of role shuffling, blown saves, homerun balls, and accusations of miscommunication:
The #Tigers have released RHP Francisco Rodriguez and placed OF Alex Presley on the 7-day concussion DL
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 23, 2017
The Tigers recalled the hard throwing Bruce Rondón to replace K-Rod. Rondón, who’s been something of an enigma during his Tigers tenure, was shuttled to Toledo after several rocky appearances out of the bullpen in April. He’s come up with mixed results in Toledo, which include a robust 11.1 K/9 and an equally robust 6.1 BB/9, but he’s been much better lately.
In his last ten appearances, Rondón has thrown 10 innings, allowed 2 runs, struck out 12, and walked only 3. It’s imperative—for both the Tigers and Rondón—that the right hander has a strong return.
As for K-Rod, the veteran closer departs as the fourth all-time saves leader (h/t Chris McCosky), and may very well be destined for Cooperstown. It’s sad K-Rod’s ending in Detroit couldn’t be more of the storybook variety, but age catches up to us all one way or another.
SP: Jordan Zimmermann (R)
2B: Ian Kinsler (R)
3B: Nicholas Castellanos (R)
1B: Miguel Cabrera (R)
DH: Víctor Martínez (S)
RF: J.D. Martinez (R)
LF: Justin Upton (R)
C: James McCann (R)
CF: Mikie Mahtook (R)
SS: José Iglesias (R)
SP: Brian Johnson (L)
RF: Mookie Betts (R)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (R)
SS: Xander Bogaerts (R)
1B: Mitch Moreland (L)
LF: Andrew Benintendi (L)
DH: Hanley Ramírez (R)
CF: Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
C: Sandy León (S)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (S)
Things of Import: James McCann has been activated off the 10-day DL and the Tigers have optioned John Hicks back to Toledo to make room. Justin Verlander will also be able to make his next scheduled start tomorrow, as planned.
We’re only a third of the way through the season, so not probably not very much. However, it did show us some very important things. Namely, Jordan Zimmermann can resemble his old, pre-injury self when he has a handle on his once deadly slider. It showed us that the Tigers’ bullpen is pretty dang good now, and might have some unsung heroes, such as long-man Warwick Saupold. This series also showed us two different sides to the Tigers’ sometimes explosive, often frustrating offense: they can destroy weak pitching with the long ball and rack up extra base hits and they can play a little smallball, move runners along, and cash them in at opportune moments.
Almost everything went right for the Tigers in their three-game sweep of the lowly White Sox. And when something didn’t go as planned—such as de facto ace Justin Verlander leaving Sunday’s game early with a groin injury or stalwart set-up man Alex Wilson faltering in the eighth—different players stepped up to carry the team.
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SP: David Holmberg (L)
SP: Justin Verlander (R)
Notes: Tigers go for the sweep over the White Sox today.
SP: Miguel González (R)
SP: Jordan Zimmermann (R)
Notes: I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF FINISHING THIS BUT I GOT DISTRACTED BECAUSE BRAD GOT EJECTED.