David Price shines in his Tigers debut

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New uniform, same results: a lot of strikeouts, no walks and a nice long outing that, had the Tigers bats been a bit more effective early, would’ve saved the bullpen. Welcome to the Tigers, David Price.

Price didn’t get the win, but he certainly did what the Tigers wanted him to do when they traded for him. He pitched eight and two-thirds innings, scattering eight hits, striking out ten Yankees and walking no one. The Tigers went on to win the game in 12 as Joba Chamberlain, Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan shut things down after Price’s departure. While 12 innings is not something a manager wants to endure, that’s a bullpen combination Brad Ausmus would love to rely on in late innings, avoiding his less-effective relievers. Price’s long outing made that possible.

To see the contrast, one need only look at the Athletics-Rays game where the pitcher who was traded away from Detroit for Price — Drew Smyly — labored over five and a third innings, leaving with the loss and tossing only five fewer pitches that Price did in nearly nine. Smyly’s a fine pitcher and will have better days, but the Tigers are in win-now mode and an ace who can dominate games is what is needed. Even if Price makes the fourth or even fifth ace on the staff.

For his part, Price seemed relieved after the game to have his first Tigers start under his belt, saying “Happy it’s over, and happy we won. Finally feel part of the team.”

I’m sure the feeling is mutual, David.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?