Tigers could address their leadoff woes with Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo

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Free agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury was part of the Red Sox arsenal that helped knock the Tigers out of the playoffs. “If you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em,” the Tigers must be thinking. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that, given the Tigers’ lack of success with Austin Jackson atop the lineup, they could pursue Ellsbury during the off-season. Cafardo also names Shin-Soo Choo, who spent the 2013 season playing center field and leading off for the Reds.

You may be able to add free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to the list of potential leadoff hitters the Tigers could bid on. Another Scott Boras free agent, Shin-Soo Choo, is also a candidate.

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“That’s the one team we haven’t heard Ellsbury’s name mentioned with,” said one American League general manager. “We’ve heard a lot about the Mets, Mariners, Rangers, but the Tigers make perfect sense. They are a big-market team with big resources. There’s a relationship with Scott and Mr. Ilitch. They’ve done business before and there’s no reason they can’t do business again.”

Ellsbury suffered a broken foot in early September when he fouled off a ball. He sat on the bench for three weeks, then came back at the end of the season just in time to join the Red Sox for the playoffs. He finished the regular season with a league-leading 52 stolen bases in 56 attempts while hitting .298. In 45 trips to the plate during the 2013 post-season, Ellsbury has a .400/.467/.525 line along with six stolen bases in seven attempts. He is a high-ceiling kind of player, valued at five or more Wins Above Replacement in the last three years, according to Baseball Reference.

Despite the perception, the Tigers actually had the fourth-highest OPS (.751) out of the lead-off spot in the batting order during the regular season among American League teams. Jackson led off in 127 of 162 games.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.