Restoring the rosters: No. 22 – Detroit

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
22nd may not seem like much, but this is a big step forward from where the Tigers would have ranked a few years ago. Prior to 2005, the team had finished under .500 in 12 straight seasons. What little talent the team produced during that span mostly went to Texas in return for Juan Gonzalez in 1999.
Rotation
Justin Verlander
Jair Jurrjens
Rick Porcello
John Smoltz
Luke French
Bullpen
Francisco Cordero
Jason Frasor
Fernando Rodney
Joel Zumaya
Ryan Perry
Trever Miller
Jeff Weaver
With two top-of-the-rotation starters and three fine late-game relievers, the Tigers have more to offer in the pitching department than most of the other teams in the bottom half of the rankings. Depth is an issue, though. Porcello isn’t a legitimate No. 3 at this point, and I may be in the minority in that I’d still take Smoltz over Brian Moehler, Weaver and Andrew Miller. If Porcello develops as expected, Andrew Miller comes along and Zumaya gets healthy, this could be a legitimate top-five staff in a couple of years.
Lineup
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Omar Infante
1B Frank Catalanotto
3B Brandon Inge
RF Matt Joyce
LF Cody Ross
DH Jeff Larish
SS Ramon Santiago
C Alex Avila
Bench
OF Cameron Maybin
INF-OF Ryan Raburn
INF Anderson Hernandez
C Dusty Ryan
It’s not a lineup that’s going to scare anyone, but at least the Tigers can boast legitimate options at every position, which is an improvement over most of the teams below them. Infante, Ross, Santiago and Raburn are all underappreciated players, and Joyce and Larish still figure to produce if given the opportunity. The Tigers even have some useful players who didn’t make the team, like Clete Thomas, Jack Hannahan and Gabe Kapler.
As is, the pieces fit quite well. Lefties and righties can be alternated throughout the lineup against right-handed starters. Versus lefties, Maybin can replace Joyce, Raburn can start over Catalanotto or Larish and Ryan can alternate with Avila. Maybe no one on the team besides Granderson will boast much more than an 800 OPS, but there are no real liabilities.
Summary
The Tigers drafted about as poorly as any team in the 1990s, but things have turned around since Dave Dombrowski took over in 2002, and while no one has ever accused the Tigers farm system of being deep, it’s churned out some excellent players lately. Most of the key players above are still capable of getting better, and if I redo these rankings in a couple of years, I’ll fully expect the Tigers to crack the top 15.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.