Tag: Ian Kinsler

Max Scherzer

Tigers face losing Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez to free agency


Celebrated Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has a very difficult couple of months ahead of him. Not only is he faced with the annual questions about the state of his bullpen, but he could lose 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and 2014 AL MVP candidate Victor Martinez in free agency.

Related: Orioles sweep away Tigers in ALDS

The Tigers prepared for Scherzer’s departure when they made the David Price trade in July, so they can subtract their best pitcher and still have one of the AL’s best rotations with Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez sticking around. They’ll probably add a veteran fifth starter, too, or at least someone who can compete with internal candidates like Kyle Lobstein and Robbie Ray.

The lineup is a bigger concern. Martinez seems happy in Detroit and will be quite a bit cheaper to retain than Scherzer. There’s a good chance Dombrowski can convince him to stick around, perhaps for something like $60 million for three years. The Tigers will also have to decide whether to retain Torii Hunter in free agency. He might choose to retire. They’ll need to go out and get a center fielder after trading Austin Jackson as part of the Price deal. The shortstop situation could be resolved if Jose Iglesias makes a successful return after missing the season with shin splints. Thoughts of trading Ian Kinsler and installing Eugenio Suarez at second base should be on the backburner now after the rookie’s disappointing finish.

Of course, Dombrowski can be expected to throw some more money at the bullpen this winter. Last year, he let Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras go, replacing them with Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain. He also traded for Joakim Soria in July. Nathan is due to return in 2015, but Chamberlain is a free agent. The Tigers hold a $7 million option on Soria’s contract that they might prefer to decline. Expect Dombrowski to open the wallet for a lefty this time around. Andrew Miller , who pitched 3 1/3 hitless innings in the ALDS, would be ideal, and the Tigers might well be the favorites to land him. Zach Duke, Neal Cotts and Joe Beimel would be more affordable options. Depending on how much he spends on offense, Dombrowski could also sign one of the top righties available from the group of David Robertson, Koji Uehara, Francisco Rodriguez and Sergio Romo.

With the Royals expected to lose James Shields and no one else spending big in the AL Central, the Tigers will likely enter next year as division favorites once again. After all, they have one of the best GMs around and almost twice the budget of their competition. It just won’t be as clear cut as it has been in recent seasons, at least not unless Dombrowski has something truly special in store.

ALDS Game 3: Orioles vs. Tigers lineups

comerica park getty
Leave a comment

Here are the starting lineups for Game 3 of the Orioles-Tigers series in Detroit …

2B Ian Kinsler
RF Torii Hunter
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
LF J.D. Martinez
C Alex Avila
3B Nick Castellanos
SS Andrew Romine
CF Don Kelly

David Price is pitching for the Tigers’ postseason lives. Rajai Davis suffered a Grade 1 groin strain last Saturday and then aggravated it in Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday, so Kelly gets the nod in center field.

RF Nick Markakis
1B Steve Pearce
CF Adam Jones
DH Nelson Cruz
LF Delmon Young
SS J.J. Hardy
C Nick Hundley
3B Ryan Flaherty
2B Jonathan Schoop

Bud Norris is making his first career postseason start. He struggled in two outings against Detroit during the regular season, but that all goes out the window now as the O’s try to advance to the ALCS. Alejandro De Aza started in left field in the first two games of this best-of-five, but he’ll sit against the left-handed Price.

Brad Ausmus doesn’t want to make the tough calls

Brad Ausmus

When the Tigers acquired reliever Joakim Soria from the Rangers on July 23, giving up two of their top 10 prospects to do so, it seemed obvious he should take over as Detroit’s closer. After all, he had a 2.70 ERA at the time and was 17-for-19 saving games for Texas. Nathan had a 5.89 ERA and had blown five saves in 25 chances.

Instead, manager Brad Ausmus stuck with Nathan. It worked out fine. Soria stumbled out of the gate for the Tigers and then suffered a strained oblique that cost him a month. Nathan’s ERA was much improved the rest of the way, though his WHIP actually went up a bit (Nathan had a 5.61 ERA and a 35/14 K/BB ratio in 33 2/3 innings in the first half and a 3.70 ERA and a 19/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings in the second half).

After Soria returned, Ausmus never wavered, not even to install Soria as the eighth-inning guy over Joba Chamberlain. While most focused on Nathan’s struggles, Chamberlain had gone from posting a 2.63 ERA in the first half to a 4.97 ERA afterwards. He had a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings prior to the All-Star break and a 19/12 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings afterwards. At least in the second half, the eighth inning had proven more problematic for the Tigers than the ninth.

Related: Tigers give up four in eighth, lose 7-6 to Orioles in ALDS Game 2

Yet Ausmus refused to try anything different. Maybe Soria hadn’t quite returned to form following the oblique injury, but Al Alburquerque remained criminally underused. Alburquerque had a 2.51 ERA this season, lowering his career mark to 2.82. He allowed two runs over 18 2/3 innings in August and September. He held right-handers to a .190/.281/.237 line and was still plenty respectable against lefties (.245/.311/.369). Yet his last three appearances this year came in games the Tigers lost a combined 28-9. He hasn’t pitched in the ALDS.

It’s not just the eighth inning, either. On two occasions against the Orioles, Aumsus has seemed to defer to his players against his better judgment. In Game 1, he started Davis in spite of a groin injury that had him looking more like a 40-year-old catcher than a fleet-footed center fielder. There’s no way Davis should have played (Davis started again today, then exited in the fourth because of his injury). In the sixth inning today, he sent Justin Verlander back out to the mound, only to pull him after a leadoff single (that should have been caught by Davis’s replacement, Ezequiel Carrera). If Verlander was one mistake away from coming out, why send him out to make that mistake?

Brad Ausmus’s flaw has nothing to do with intelligence. He just seems overly resistant to change. He doesn’t like tweaking his lineups: Rajai Davis has bigger platoon issues than any right-handed hitter in the game; he’s a quality leadoff man against lefties, but he really shouldn’t be starting against righties at all. Ausmus hits him ninth on a full-time basis regardless. Ian Kinsler had a .270 OBP in the second half, yet remained the everyday leadoff man. Ausmus decided it made more sense to win or lose with Chamberlain in the eighth than it did to try anything different. And now the Tigers’ season appears nearly over because of it.

Last year, Tigers manager Jim Leyland installed career infielder Jhonny Peralta, returning from his 50-game PED suspension, as his left fielder with three games left to go in the regular season. When Austin Jackson, a leadoff man all season long, struggled in the postseason, Leyland suddenly dropped him in the order in the ALCS and started hitting Torii Hunter first and Miguel Cabrera second.

Ausmus, still a rookie manager, lacks that boldness at this stage of his career. Down 2-0 to the Orioles, He’ll probably go in a different direction given a lead in the eighth inning of Game 3 on Sunday, but only because he’s really been left with no other choice (Anibal Sanchez almost surely will be that eighth-inning guy unless David Price can get through the inning himself). I still imagine Ausmus will turn into a strong manager in time, but 2014 has been a learning experience for him. It’s too bad for the Tigers that they didn’t get a year with Leyland at the helm and Ausmus as a bench coach before making the transition.

ALDS Game 2: Tigers vs. Orioles Lineups

Nelson Cruz

source: AP

It seemed mere hours ago that the Orioles’ trouncing of the Tigers concluded. So let’s do it again at noon, shall we? The lineups:


1. Ian Kinsler 2B
2. Torii Hunter RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B
4. Victor Martinez DH
5. J.D. Martinez LF
6. Nick Castellanos 3B
7. Alex Avila C
8. Andrew Romine SS
9. Rajai Davis CF
SP: Justin Verlander

The only difference here is the flip-flopping of Castellanos and Avila from last night. Davis was a late decision — the lineup just came out less than an hour before the game due to Ausmus waiting to see how Davis felt. Apparently he’s good to go.



1. Nick Markakis RF
2. Alejandro De Aza LF
3. Adam Jones CF
4. Nelson Cruz DH
5. Steve Pearce 1B
6. J.J. Hardy SS
7. Ryan Flaherty 3B
8. Caleb Joseph C
9. Jonathan Schoop 2B
SP: Wei-Yin Chen

The only difference here is Buck Showalter swapping out Nick Hundley for Caleb Joseph at catcher.

Play ball.

Orioles pour it on late in victory over Tigers in Game 1 of ALDS

Nelson Cruz AP

Nelson Cruz drove in three runs and Brad Ausmus’ bullpen melted down as the Orioles defeated the Tigers 12-3 tonight in Game 1 of the ALDS at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

You wouldn’t know it by the final score, but this was actually a pretty close game until the Orioles poured it on late. Cruz, who led the majors with 40 homers during the regular season, got the Orioles on the board first with an opposite-field two-run blast off Max Scherzer in the bottom of the first inning. However, the Tigers quickly responded in the top of the second, as Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez connected for solo home runs against Chris Tillman to tie things up. The Orioles then took the lead right back in the bottom of the second with an RBI single from Nick Markakis.

Tillman’s pitch count climbed quickly, mostly by throwing 30 pitches to Ian Kinsler over three at-bats, so he only lasted five innings. He wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in his final frame. Orioles manager Buck Showalter then turned to Andrew Miller, who got five big outs before giving way to Darren O’Day to finish off the top of the seventh. J.J Hardy added an insurance run on a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh before Miguel Cabrera responded with a solo homer of his own to bring the Tigers within one run. After Cabrera’s homer, Showalter brought on his closer Zach Britton, who got Victor Martinez to ground out to end the top of the eighth. That’s when things got out of hand.

Scherzer was pulled after a one-out double in the bottom of the eighth before the Orioles put the game out of reach by scoring eight runs against the much-maligned Tigers’ bullpen. They brought 12 men to the plate on six hits, two errors, and two walks. With the luxury of a big lead, Showalter brought on Tommy Hunter to get the final three outs.

By scoring 12 runs, the Orioles set a new playoff club record. Cruz now has 15 home runs and 30 RBI in 35 career postseason games.

The Tigers don’t have long to recover from this one, as Game 2 of the ALDS will begin at 12:07 p.m. ET tomorrow afternoon. Justin Verlander will start for Detroit while the Orioles will counter with Wei-Yin Chen.