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Nine things I think: Justin Verlander, Austin Jackson and left-coast edition

My ERA is 6.88? That's a typo, right?
My ERA is 6.88? That's a typo, right?
  1. I think too much is being made over the Tigers' starting pitching right now. The Tigers lead only the Red Sox in starting pitcher ERA with 5.31. It would be easy to look at that number and assume the bottom of the rotation isn't getting the job done. But actually, it's the top of the rotation that is struggling. Justin Verlander has an ERA of 6.88. Rick Porcello's is 6.64. Who here thinks these two players are going to struggle for the entire season, raise your hand. No one? Good. Because they're going to improve and so is the rotation.
  2. I think Austin Jackson, for all his positives, might need a little more time in Triple A to continue working on his swing. I'm as thrilled the next person at his start, and I really want him to grow into the star center fielder the Tigers need. But he is striking out in 37.7 percent of his at-bats. I love that he's working the counts and finding ways to get on base. But there is no way -- no way! -- his BABIP is going to finish the season at .500. So that nice OBP and SLG is going to see quite a dropoff, and the Tigers are not using him as a base-stealing threat. Chasing rookie strikeout records is no way for a leadoff batter to make a career. He's got to find a way to make more contact.
  3. I think too much is being made of the Tigers' struggles to get runners home. I don't expect them to become the Yankees, but I do expect the success rates of certain batters near the top of the order will show improvement over the course of a year.
  4. I think it's remarkable the Tigers are in second place considering a couple of the above points.
  5. I also think -- OK, pretty sure we can move this into the "know" category -- the Twins are not going to remain this hot. But if they do manage to remain on pace to win 118 games, it really doesn't matter how good or bad the Tigers are, does it?
  6. I think the AL East continues to scare the dickens out of me, especially when Boston gets back to winning more often than it loses.
  7. I think I'd like to see Brent Dlugach starting at shortstop. As much as the idea scares me, I think it's hard to justify the Tigers continuing to carry Adam Everett. You'd like to say, "Ah, but the season is young." Yes, but Everett is hitting like we expected him to! Dlugach, meanwhile, has a .322 average and .344 on-base percentage for Triple-A Toledo. At some point you have to admit Everett's glove is simply not going to make up for his poor hitting.
  8. I think I like how Jim Leyland is using his catchers. So far, it's been about a 3:2 ratio for Gerald Laird to Alex Avila. I agree with that. Laird should continue to get a majority of the starts, but Avila is used enough to keep get the necessary experience and keep both catchers fresh.
  9. I think this is the worst Tigers schedule I can remember. Seriously, it's awful. They go from playing a bunch of 1 p.m. games that most working people can't see to a bunch of 10 p.m. games that most working people can't see. I understand all the reasons they might want to schedule afternoon games at Comerica Park, but their home schedule needed to get the team in prime time more often before they headed out west. If I didn't write a website about team, I probably would scarcely have acknowledged baseball season even began. A return to the central time zone Friday will be nice, and it will be even better when they get back to 7 p.m. games in Detroit on Tuesday.