Welcome to another merciful off day. Solid performances by Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris (except that one inning) couldn’t get the Detroit Tigers past the Indians, as they were swept out of Cleveland over the weekend. While we await the upcoming series with the Texas Rangers, take some time to catch up on some links.
Go with Joe
This season has not played out the way most would have expected for Joe Jimenez. He is struggling to pitch well with any kind of consistency, and efforts to move him around in his role in the bullpen have recently resulted in manager Ron Gardenhire giving up and slotting him back into the eighth inning roll where Jimenez is (presumably) going to sink or swim.
“I’m tired of messing around with this thing,” Gardenhire said on June 12 after reinstating Jimenez in the eighth-inning role. “We’re trying to find the right situations; well, we never have those situations. Just let Joe take the ball in the eighth inning and go shut it down.”
The key is Jimenez’s slider. When it’s on, he swims just fine. It hasn’t exactly been on for good stretches of the season. Jimenez continues to work with coaches to get back to the dominate pitcher he has looked like in the past, and he may need to get there soon. When Shane Greene gets traded this summer, Jimenez is most likely taking over closing duties, ready or not.
Long way to go
John Perrotto of Forbes gives us a state of the rebuild article [Ed.: Didn’t they just do that?] that is predictably bleak. If the talk of two aging and unmovable veterans in Jordan Zimmermann and Miguel Cabrera with contracts that will cost the team $55 million per Season over the next two years doesn’t sufficiently harsh your mellow, then maybe the focus on many of the young players not being long term fixtures for the organization will. The “bright spot” here is that Matthew Boyd and Shane Greene look very tradeable. The worry: is Al Avila properly equipped to maximize his returns on those two players?
Prior to the Cleveland series, the Tigers had 24 runners thrown out on the base paths in 2019, good for third-most in the league. This doesn’t seem to bother Ron Gardenhire. He is preaching the aggressive approach and doesn’t have any particular issue with his players trying to stretch a hit into extra bases. In his opinion, this team isn’t going to hit enough to allow for runners to hang around and drive folks home, so the manufacturing of the runs is the way things are going. Don’t expect this to be a one season trend as long as Gardenhire is around. He’s about ingraining a mentality into his players, and that mentality is to be aggressive on the bases.
Faedo is back!
The 2018 season was not super kind to Alex Faedo. A rough year left many with questions about what kind of pitcher the Tigers had on their hands. He has done a lot in 2019 to reassure folks that he’s a legitimate prospect. Faedo’s fastball velocity is up, he is sporting a sexy 10.85 K/9 and Mike Rabelo has nice things to say about his arsenal.
“His fastball velocity has gone up,” Erie manager Mike Rabelo said. “His slider is a little tighter and his change-up has a nice bottom.”
If I could get the ladies to talk about me like Mike Rabelo talks about Alex Faedo’s pitches, I’d be a happy man (who doesn’t like things tighter with a nice bottom?). Having Matt Manning and Casey Mize around to learn from seems to have been helpful for Faedo as well. Whatever keeps him effective, I’m all for.
Are you familiar with the name Jose Azocar? If not, you might want to be. The 23-year-old prospect is starting to show some consistency and make a name for himself at Double-A. The concern has been that Azocar has never see a baseball he can’t hit, or at least swing at. The promising development, according to SeaWolves manager Mike Rabelo, is that Azocar is starting to learn to take pitches. He displays some impressive raw power as well. If he continues to move forward in the right directions, learning to be more selective and developing his power, he could be fun to watch.
Around the horn
Twins sign Cody Allen to a minor league deal. Major League Baseball makes more sense in Montreal than Tampa Bay or Miami. Wilkin Castillo gets his first hit in 3,654 days. The five most disappointing players in Major League Baseball this season.