The schedule makers teased us with two games against the Indians, a worthy opponent, but now present the Twins for four games. Minnesota has lost eight in a row to fall seven games under .500. They sent their opening day starter down to AAA and are wondering who should start Friday night’s game. The Tigers’ rotation is set for the weekend, which should not be taken for granted.
The Tigers' starters have many good statistics, but an important one that may be overlooked is "fewest pitchers to start a game". Every American League team other than Detroit has used more than their original starting five. The average team has used seven starters and it is not even Memorial Day. The Orioles lead the way with 10, while the Rays and Royals have gone to a replacement only once. This is not unusual. Typically by now one starter will have an injury and one will be ineffective. So we can argue about whether Rick Porcello is improving or should be replaced with Drew Smyly. But would you rather have Porcello on the mound tonight, or the number two starter for the Mud Hens? And thinking of Toledo, if the Twins are desperate for pitching why is Adam Wilk in Korea?
The Twins also remind us to appreciate the changes in left and right field. Going back to the epic game 163 against Minnesota in 2009, we are reminded of issues with defense in the corners. In 2010 Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Raburn were hitting, but allowing too many fly balls to fall. Johnny Damon saw some action which clarified that he should DH. 2011 was a collection of a damaged Ordonez, a frustrating Raburn, and Brennan Boesch. The Tigers looked to Minnesota for help, and the Twins were thrilled to part with Delmon Young. In 2012 the Tigers tired of Young’s failings in left and gave Jeff Baker a short try. His defense is such that Baseball Reference.com cites his primary position as "pinch hitter". The stability of Dirks and Hunter chasing down hard hit balls is a joy.
The Dodgers benched Andre Ethier and rumors are that he may be available for trade. In past years, the Tigers would be listed among the suitors. Ethier has consistently hit in an eight year career, with consistently mediocre defense. So let’s celebrate that this year instead of trading for help and being disappointed, the Tigers could call up Avisail Garcia. The Twins may put Josh Willingham on the market in July, but the Tigers can take a pass.