Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's wrong with the Tigers?

Let's take a look at every game in which Tigers starters have provided quality starts (QS). A QS is when the starter goes at least 6 innings and gives up no more than 3 earned runs.

Date - Pitcher - Result
4/2 Bonderman Loss, 5-3 Toronto (10 innings)
4/8 Bonderman, Win, 3-2 Kansas City
4/13 Bonderman, Loss, 2-1 Toronto (10 innings)
4/18 Bonderman, Loss, 4-3 Kansas City (10 innings)
4/10 Robertson, Win, 3-1 Baltimore
4/15 Robertson, Loss, 2-1 Toronto
4/21 Robertson, Loss, 7-5 Chicago (10 innings)
4/27 Robertson, Loss, 5-3 Minnesota
4/6 Verlander, Loss, 3-1 Kansas City
4/11 Verlander, Win, 4-1 Baltimore
4/16 Verlander, Win, 12-5 Kansas City
4/22 Verlander, Win, 6-5 Chicago (12 innings)
4/12 Maroth, Win, 5-4 Toronto
4/25 Durbin, Win, 6-2 Chicago

So, when the starters are performing very well (which, fortunately, is a frequent occurrence), the Tigers are playing .500 ball. They're 7-7 exactly. (I'd be interested to see the all-time statistic about how likely a team is to win a ballgame when their starter has turned in a QS. I bet it's better than 50%.)

Let's look at the losses. In those seven games, the starter has only been the losing pitcher once. The rest of the time, we've had:
  • Fernando Rodney lose three games that Jeremy Bonderman started, and one that Nate Robertson started
  • Todd Jones blow a save
  • Joel Zumaya blow two saves and take a loss
  • Jose Mesa provide strong evidence for his being shipped off to the glue factory
The bullpen is a big problem. Tiger relievers have pitched 68.1 innings thus far and have given up 37 earned runs, amounting to an ERA of 4.87. But over the seven losses listed above the Tigers only managed to plate 17 runs, scoring more than three just once. That's an average of just over 2.4 runs per game.

So there are two things going on: in games where opponents don't get many runs in the early going, the batters don't get anything going, and when it comes time for the relievers to step in, they're as likely to throw the game away as to shut the door.

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