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Brad Penny ate innings at back of rotation

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DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 25:  Brad Penny #31 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park on September 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 25: Brad Penny #31 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park on September 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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Just like last year, we'll be grading all the Tigers who contributed significant playing time over the course of the season, starting with the position players, then doing the rotation members, and finally finishing up with the bullpen. This list is in alphabetical order. These reviews will occasionally dip into sabermetrics so we can get a better idea why things happened, but I'll try to explain as we go through things.

Brad Penny

Brad Penny single handedly held up this entire series for like, two weeks. But I guess at some point I have power through this and keep moving forward, right?

Penny was, let's be charitable, not the most exciting player on the team. But he did the job he was signed for: eating innings at the back of the rotation. He did it reasonably well. Actually, I'd hazard the guess he did it better than some expected based on his experience in Boston.

Penny finished the season with a not-so-pretty 5.30 ERA amassed over nearly 182 innings. He had quality starts in 42% of his games, and his team won in 51.6% of his starts despite rotation-low run support.*

*Phil Coke's was actually lower but he finished the year in the bullpen.

So in the end, I think I'll give Penny a C-. He was below average, but not completely awful.

Not that Penny's stats were all that impressive. In some ways, his numbers were worse than in Boston. He had a career low K/9 (3.5) and the highest BB/9 since 2008 with 3.1. H and his defense also failed to limit hits, so he came in at a career high 11 H/9. Remarkably though, his ERA was actually more than half a run higher than his expected FIP of 4.77 and a third of a run higher than his FIP of 5.02.

His best month in the Detroit uniform was May. He appeared to have broken through with seven innings of no run ball in late April, and was playing up to the ability he had shown in the Cardinals uniform a season earlier. Counting the first three starts of May, he'd allowed two-runs-or-fewer in three of four games. However, the fourth start of May resulted in a bit of step backwards. He finished the month with 3 wins and a 3.24 ERA in five starts.

In June, Penny allowed three-runs-or-fewer in four of five starts, so at least there was consistency and the kind of pitching that would allow his team a chance to win most games.

Penny appeared to run out of gas after the All-Star Break. His strikeout rate fell, his walk rate increased. The result was a second half ERA that was nearly 2 runs worse (6.49) than in the first half (4.38).

In 2012:

A lot of people don't realize this, but Penny won't be back in the Tigers uniform in 2012. (Most people on this site know that, but start talking to your friends who don't follow baseball quite as close and they'll bring up Penny's name.) Given how his season in Detroit went, I think he'll find it hard to be guaranteed a spot in anyone's rotation at this point, but I'm sure he'll be given the chance to pitch somewhere if he so chooses.

Just don't expect much.