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A Pitching Staff In Decline

It's been a horrific stretch for Tiger pitching. On August 23rd, on the back of a strong outing by Nate Robertson, the Tigers beat the A's to cap a streak of eight wins in nine games. The team ERA stood at 4.22. Then this happened:

9 9
9 11
8 9
9 8
8 11
8 6
9 3
8 12
8 9
8 2

Ten games. Nine losses. Two quality starts. The team ERA has skyrocketed to 4.53, and that's after Jeremy Bonderman's valiant effort in defeat last night. Granted, the Tigers have played good teams over this stretch: Oakland, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago. But only Boston and Cleveland can be said to have good offenses; Oakland and Chicago are, at best, opportunistic, taking advantage of and piling onto bad pitching.

Starting pitching once looked like the strong point of the team. Jason Johnson, Nate Robertson, and Mike Maroth carried ERAs under four well into the season's second month. Robertson flirted with the AL ERA leaderboard into June and July, though his number was bouyed by a passel of unearned runs. Bonderman raced to a 13-6 start; now he's 14-12, and he's given up more hits than he has innings pitched. I can think of two reasons not to turn away in shame, though:

  1. Bonderman. He pitched beautifully last night after struggling in his first start back from a beaning. A lesser pitcher, facing all this losing and all this injury, might simply fade away down the strech. Not so for J-Bon.
  2. Sean Douglass had an ERA of 2.10 on July 23rd. It was 4.08 on August 9th. Now it's 6.39, and he's finally hit the magic number that banishes him to the bullpen. Roman Colon will take his spot on Wednesday against Cleveland. I'm not sure if Colon is the answer, but I'm sure Douglass isn't. At least Colon throws hard.