My two and 1/2 cents about the Bonderman-Willis-Galarraga-discussion

The Tigers have three pitchers in their rotation that I’d stack up against just about any other team in the league.  

Justin Verlander is pitching on a level that if it weren’t for Greinke’s PlayStation-worthy start he’d be the guy everybody is talking about.
Edwin Jackson is either over achieving or just finally put all his talent to use and is dominating.  He could easily have nine wins.
Rick Porcello is pitching well beyond his twenty years.
And then…
And then, well, its a mess.  
Willis couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat in the middle of the Atlantic in a hurricane.  He’s all over the place mechanically, commandically, grammatically, and any other word that ends in ly that you can attach to a pitcher.  
He was so bad at one point the Tigers put him on the DL because of it.
Anxiety disorder or not, I’m pretty sure his lack of options to the minors and the fact that he makes better than seven million bucks for the year had more to do with his stint on the DL than any sort of anxiety problem.
Though if I was getting lit up like the Terminator Pinball machine at the bowling alley I’d probably have a little anxiety about going to work too.
Galarraga finally became what most of us were afraid he would: a mediocre pitcher.  Yeah, yeah, he won fourteen games last year.  So what.
As much as I hate those crazy, batting-average-against-in-day-games-when-the-opposing-pitcher-had-bacon-with-his-breakfast-and-the-wind-is-blowing-in-a-south-by-southwest-manner-stats, but here’s a telling one:
His batting average against on balls in play (BAbip) during his fourteen win season last year was a remarkable .237.
Meaning that when every opposing player put the ball in play, 72.3% of the time they made outs.
The league average for BAbip is .296.
His BAbip this season?  .304.
More league average proving that he’s below average as a Major League pitcher.
Verlander, by comparison, pitching, seemingly, on a different planet this year, has a BAbip of .316, higher than the league average by a significant margin and he’s be flat out dominating.
So, now that guys aren’t hitting into double plays, hitting liners at fielders, or swinging and missing, period, Galarraga has become, I’m afraid, what he always was.
And I’m not sure Jeremy Bonderman warrants discussion at all because he’s back on the shelf and is in no position to earn a spot in the rotation period, but I remember the question a few weeks back about which was more deserving of the fifth starters spot.
Galarraga wasn’t included in that discussion because he’s the fourth starter, but lets face it, at best he’s a fifth starter so I’ll include him.
If its between Willis or Galarraga as my fifth starter I’d give serious thought to Nate Robertson.
Willis and Galarraga aren’t any good.  Its strange how quickly Willis went from 22-6 and 2.62, to where he is now.  Galarraga’s slider is flat, fastball isn’t too fast, sinker flattened out too, and he isn’t missing any bats.
Robertson probably isn’t much better, but he definitely isn’t any worse.  
Miner probably wouldn’t be any worse either.  
And Bonderman.
Man, I was clamoring for the Tigers to trade him a few years ago and its looking like they should have.  But injuries aren’t predictable so Dombrowski gets a pass.  
But Bonderman who used to pitch in the mid nineties is now topping out at 90-91 and isn’t locating it.  He didn’t really locate well before, but when you throw in the mid nineties you don’t always have to.  When you throw 90-91, you do.
And he said during his pregame interview last week that he was going to throw a lot more change ups, which normally would be a good thing, but when your change-up is at 83 and your fastball is at 89, change-up should read: batting practice.
His slider is still one of the best in the game, but when his fastball isn’t fast and his change-up is ineffective, he isn’t going to win too many games or put the Tigers in a position to win many games either.  
The truth is, the Tigers fifth spot in the rotation would be better suited to be filled by just about anybody but the guys who are available they just aren’t very good.  I’d rather have a guy who actually throws strikes (Galarraga), even if those strikes get hammered, than a guy who walks eight in less than four innings (Willis).
But hell, I’m the guy who thinks that hitting is just as important as pitching–neither more than the other.


  1. fourtwenty

    if your top two are good enough, you can have barely league average at your three, and pretty godawful sucky at four and five…and win a division, pennant, and series. it’s been done.

    i mean, dude…Les Straker? you ever hear of Les Straker? I remember that season, the last kinda hurrah of the 80’s Tigers…and even though i saw the ******* pitch…well, kinda throw, really…there’s no way in hell he deserved to be in a major league rotation. and he was their third starter. it went downhill fast from there, performance wise.

    that was actually a subject of bill james’ offseason analysis in the ’88 Abstact…just how deep does your pitching staff have to have quality in order to be competetive. cuz all you heard was that the twins just couldn’t stack up, with Les goddam Straker in the third spot. no one could believe it. but they won the Series that year…

    the Tigers have a real nice top three. that’ll be *plenty* enough if they can get near league average out of the four slot…even if slot five is godawfuljeeezusalmightysuck.

    well, it’ll be plenty enough IF…i mean…as long as two thirds of the outfield isn’t an offensive black hole. they say they need a power bat…but what they need is a player, or a platoon…in *either* left or right…who can OPS .800, .825 or so.
    as a unit, the pitching is plenty strong enough to get it done…the offense, on the other hand, is in the bottom third of the league. that may not be as spectacular and obviousely ugly a failing as them flailing around with bonderman, willis, gallaraga, et al…but in the end, you gotta be at least middle of the pack in both areas to succeed. and the *offense* is just not getting it done.

  2. hoopster

    3 good pitchers to win 2 of 3 and enough hitting to win one of two with the 4th and 5th slot throwers, I won’t say pitchers and you’ve got playoffs. the tigers blew a thousand scoring chances last year or the Twins would’nt even have been close. but please no Robertson —- he’s a homerun waiting to happen every 3rd batter.

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