I’m not sure the modern day fan is built to handle the sport of baseball. As we move increasingly toward a society where instant gratification is the norm and little matters beyond the moment, it’s hard to wrangle the perspective required for a 162 game season that begins in April and trudges slowly forward (they don’t call ‘em the dog days for nothin’) through a six month season. We see three games of baseball and conclusions are already being drawn about the value — or lack there of — of a player or what it is they are failing to do in this momentously small sample size that we are grumpily extrapolating into the infinite beyond.
I try to focus on the longer term. I remind myself that we don’t know anything until at least 20 games in. Even with this perspective, I am already finding myself discouraged with the 2021 Tigers. Coming off a three game series where the offense was practically non-existent, and the pitching remained about as inconsistent as we are accustomed to, what rings more familiar is the same old Tigers stuff I was hoping would change.
Robbie Grossman represents the only player who seems to be able to work a walk, and Nomar Mazara is leading the charge in the area of ignoring the cutoff man like a check engine light in your 2004 Ford Focus. It’s two players and two small things, but they are emblematic of a larger standard of operations we continue to hope to witness substantial change in. I know we’re only nine games in, and believe me, I’m repeating my mantra about not knowing a damn thing until at least 20 games (while clinging desperately to the life-raft of Akil Baddoo and hoping it doesn’t spring a leak), but at this stage of things it’s feeling like I just slipped my right arm into a very familiar shirt. I’m not sure I want to put the rest of it on.
Anyway, just a few things I’m thinking of while we wait for the series to start in Houston. Here’s what’s going on.
After winning their first two games the Tigers have now lost six of their last seven and are limping to Houston after what by all accounts was a horrible three game run in Cleveland. Manager A.J. Hinch summed things up pretty nicely:
“We just got our ass kicked by the Indians for the third time in a row,”
With injuries to Julio Teheran and Miguel Cabrera the team heads into a tough stretch against Houston where the focus has to be on playing better baseball. In all aspects. For Hinch’s part, he doesn’t have the luxury of laying any of the team’s problems on the recent injuries, he needs players to brush it off and do better.
“Every team deals with injuries. There’s no excuse. It opens opportunities for other guys to step up. It’s more at-bats for somebody else, more innings for somebody else. The players need to respond accordingly.”
Grass is green, the sky is blue, Miguel Cabrera is hurt
In recent years injuries have defined most seasons for Miguel Cabrera. We find ourselves once again wondering if that will be the case for 2021. After noticeably wincing during an at bat on Saturday night, Miggy was once again placed on the IL. This time for 10 days with a biceps strain. It’s the same bicep that has plagued him over the last several years. The extent of the injury is unknown. Until Miggy gets back we will see ourselves some Renato Nunez. Let’s hope he brings his bat with him.
Teheran hurt too
Julio Teheran experienced the dreaded triceps tightness while warming up for his Friday night start and has also checked into the IL hotel taking a room next to Mr. Cabrera. In Teheran’s case the stay may be a bit longer. He’s officially being labelled with a shoulder strain, and according to Hinch, he’s not going to be throwing and will be missing “quite a few starts”. All this means we’re going to see Michael Fulmer come into the rotation, and if he’s throwing anything like he did in his four inning stretch on Friday, he’s likely to stick.
Turnbull reports to alternate site
Spencer Turnbull has arrived at the alternate site in Toledo and is ready to start throwing competitive innings. As for his timeline for return to the big club and what that would mean for the rotation, AJ Hinch is saying. Hinch says there’s a lot Turnbull has to get done before he’s ready and by then the situation with the pitching staff could be much different than it currently looks. All that said, the six man rotation has not been ruled out as a possibility.
What Skubal learned
Tarik Skubal was less than gruntled with his most recent performance saying in his postgame interview that “what happened today is unacceptable.” Skubal was having issues locating his fastball and in his words was missing middle too much. Cleveland made him pay, hitting the ball hard and very far. Multiple times. Skubal was rightfully frustrated, but the young pitcher is taking a mature approach to it. He’s watching the film, taking notes, and making adjustments.
Around the horn
The wild ride of Akil Baddoo’s incredible start. Dave Roberts is concerned that Trevor Bauer is being singled out. Tim Locastro breaks the record for the most stolen bases to start a career without getting caught. There was a bad call in the Braves-Phillies game.