A few areas of concern for the 5-1 Tigers

The Tigers have won five of their first six games but there are still some troubling signs.  First Justin Verlander has not looked that great in his first two starts this season.  He gave up 4 earned runs in five plus innings in his first start again Kansas City and 6 earned today in his second start in 5 innings against Cleveland.

Second, the Tigers still have a hard time scoring runners at second and third with less than two outs.  This is a phenomenon that has plagued the Tigers for the past few seasons.  In fact, if not for a 3 run error by Jhonny Peralta, the Tigers may not have won their home opener on Friday.

That being said, Willis and Bonderman have looked pretty good and there seems to be some magic around this team.  They play 27 outs and have pulled out some impressive come from behind wins so far this young season.

If JV can find his form and the Tigers get some clutch hitting, this could be a great season.

Look for Alex Avilia to get some more playing time.  On Saturday, even though he got caught looking in his last at bat with the bases loaded, he did work two walks and a HBP in his previous three plate appearances.  In his last at bat he looked anxious.  He swung a few questionable pitches early in the AB and got caught by a marginal third strike for the backwards K.  Still Avila is the real deal.

Nathan may miss 2010 season

The Minnesota Twins received some bad news today.  All-Star closer, Joe Nathan has a torn ligament in his arm and may miss the entire 2010 season.

From Fox Sports dot com:

Tests on Nathan’s right throwing elbow have revealed a significant tear in the ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that could require season-ending Tommy John surgery. Nathan’s 246 saves over six seasons are the most in the majors during that span.Tests on Nathan’s right throwing elbow have revealed a significant tear in the ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that could require season-ending Tommy John surgery. Nathan’s 246 saves over six seasons are the most in the majors during that span.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison.  Nathan’s injury is devastating to the Twins but division rivals such as the Tigers, of whom Nathan has 30 career saves out of 30 opportunities, won’t miss him too much.

Even though I’m a Tiger fan, I wish Joe Nathan a speedy recovery.

Alex Avila – The Future of the Detroit Tigers

I have seen the future of the catching position of the Detroit
Tigers.  His name is Alex Avila.  The sturdy 5’11”,
210 pound rookie Tiger catcher has impressed me so much, in limited
playing time, this season that I feel compelled to write this
entry.

Question – Why am I so confident about
Avila?

Answer – He’s a professional hitter that
gives the Tigers a professional at-bat every time at the
plate.

Avila is a left handed hitting catcher that
is going to hit for average and power.  It looks like he has
either read, or been instructed by someone who has read, “The Science
of Hitting” by The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams.  He comes
to the plate looking of a particular pitch, in a particular zone, and
doesn’t swing until he gets what he’s looking for.  He can
also protect his at-bat with two strikes by fouling off good
pitches.

Once he gets more playing time he’s going
to be hard to take out of the lineup even against left handed
pitchers. 

He stands with his right shoulder tucked in towards
the plate.  This allows him to stay on the ball which is
normally a problem for left handed hitters facing left handed
pitchers.

What impressed me most about Avila is not
his hot start, five homers and 14 RBIs in 29 games and 61 at-bats, but
rather his 0-2 performance against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday,
September 30th, 2009.  He had three plate appearances in that
game, arguably the most important game of the 2009 season to that
point.

In his first at-bat he popped out on the
first pitch from Carl Pavano to shortstop Orlando Cabrera.  In
his second at-bat in the bottom of the 4th, he struck out on six
pitches.  However, in his third at-bat, in the bottom of the
6th, he worked a 5 pitch walk off of Minnesota reliever Jesse
Crain.  In that situation it would have been easy for the
rookie, having a tough night, in an important game, to go up to the
plate over anxious and get himself out.  Instead, Avila went
to the plate with his game plan and got himself on
base.

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Tiger fans, we
should hear a lot from Alex Avila in the future.

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