These are interesting times we’re living in, friends. The Detroit Tigers are eight games into the season and coming off a sweep of the Chicago White Sox that has allowed them to nestle snugly in a half-game behind the Minnesota Twins for second place in the American League Central. Meanwhile, some dude I’ve never heard of decided The Masters is a good place to win his first major golf tournament, and, despite what you may have heard from some skeptical outlets, Shohei Ohtani is very much for real.
I know Mike Fiers’ first trip to the mound was a cold weather start against a subpar White Sox squad, but it’s hard to come away from watching Fiers’ performance in the game that clinched the series sweep for Detroit without being at least a little encouraged. He only topped out at 89 miles per hour on the fastball, but he and catcher John Hicks both cited his ability to mix his speeds and throw everything for strikes — at least, after the first inning — as a big reason why he was so successful on Sunday.
There has been a fair bit of hand wringing over the decision to move Daniel Norris to the bullpen so guys like Mike Fiers and Fransisco Liriano can get starts. Fiers didn’t do much to show that he’s ready to cede his spot in the rotation on Sunday. Odds are Fiers doesn’t hold up long-term. If he does, he’s not going to put up a lot of games like Sunday’s, when he commanded all of his pitches with life. If he manages that more often that not, he could shape into a decent $6 million trade chip come mid-season.
Joe Jimenez arrived in Detroit with great expectations in 2017. He promptly fell flat on his face, and the fickle sport that is baseball stepped over his body and trained its focus elsewhere. Well, it’s 2018, and folks, it’s looking like Joe has finally arrived. Early on, he’s looking like the filthy S.O.B. everyone expected last year. Through his first 5 1⁄3 innings, he has a 0.00 ERA, a 2.70 FIP, and four punchouts.
I’ll pause a second to allow you to grab your megaphone and crawl slowly to the top of your ladder so you can scream small sample size for the world to hear, but looking at some of Jimenez’s stuff early on is giving me the warm and fuzzies. I’m thinking the young man may be putting it together.
Joe Jimenez is looking more impressive each day. Locating his fastball well and his slider is quickly becoming a wipeout pitch. Two strikeouts today in a 1, 2, 3 eighth inning. pic.twitter.com/7WHnvaq1fv— Ron W (@FIPmyWHIP) April 8, 2018
I’m a Rod Allen man. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a catchphrase. This is also why I enjoy Jim Price and secretly pray to one day cackle with glee listening to the assured disaster that would be a two-man booth made up of Allen and Price. The two of them blurting sentence fragments directly past one another as the situation eventually devolves into two adults shouting “Yellowhammer!” and “Country Strong!” back and forth until one of them gives up would be a glorious way to spend a summer afternoon.
I digress. Despite my allegiance to the man who once chased a terrified pitcher into the outfield, I must admit I find Kirk Gibson to be absolutely delightful. He is not without controversy, though. In the latest instance, he had the audacity to put ketchup on a hot dog and eat it on live television. In Chicago, no less!
Here’s my hot take on Gibby’s (and anyone else’s) condiment choices: put whatever you damn well please on your hot dog. Dip that thing in mayo for all I care. Let your freak flag fly. My only hope is that we see more situations that bring out this almost indescribably sinister facial expression from Mario Impemba.
With the offseason departure of Ian Kinsler, it became quickly apparent that Dixon Machado was going to get his shot at proving he could be an everyday player. Well, young Mr. Machado has taken the bull by the horns, it would seem. Batting comfortably way down in the nine hole, Machado has been smacking the snot out of the ball, inspiring the coaching staff to discuss moving him up as high as the two-spot in the order. If the ‘D’ in Dixon continues to stand for doubles, then I’m all for hitting him wherever that kind of production is going to be most effective. A few more weeks of this and we can officially kickstart the #ILoveDix hashtag for the All-Star votes.
Baseball is weird
In the bottom of the 10th with the game tied at 0, Alex Bregman crushed a monstrous 20-foot bomb over the head of first baseman Eric Hosmer to bring home the winning run from second base. If none of that makes sense to you, just watch the video below and witness one of the more bizarre plays you’re likely to see this year.
Around the horn
Sports Illustrated tells you who you should and shouldn’t watch this year. If if you’re even a remotely knowledgeable baseball fan, you don’t need to read it. [Ed.: I dunno, 26-29 are dead on.] Miguel Cabrera is healthy, happy, and having fun again. A look at Tigers prospect Joey Morgan. The physics of the home run boom.