Could you give us a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers the Tigers will be putting out there against the Jays?
Friday's starter is Phil Coke. Don't look at his win-loss record: the team hasn't supported him real well. He's actually been good in every start that isn't against the Mariners. He tends to throw around the low-90s with occasional forays to the mid-90s. His slider is probably a bit above average, and he uses his changeup well. Saturday, well, Justin Verlander needs little introduction does he? In his last start the radar gun was coming back with three-digit figures on a couple of his pitches. Sunday you've got Brad Penny. He's got fifth-starter stuff basically. He's a sinkerballer more or less and needs his defense to play well behind him. Monday you've go Max Scherzer, the Tigers' most impressive pitcher so far in 2011. He's started the season 5-0 while striking out better than a batter per inning. His slider's had good success this year; his fastball is in the mid-90s typically. He might be due for a bit of regression, but you never know when exactly that'll come .
What's going on with Magglio Ordonez, he was great last year, but not so much this year? Is there an injury or is he suddenly old?
He broke his ankle last July and had surgery. That kind of scared a lot of teams off, but Detroit and Ordonez both felt loyalty and came to a deal knowing that there might be a bit of growing pains, so to say. I think it's a combination of not having his normal offseason regiment due to the surgery, and coming north to the cold, damp spring. Ordonez recently said he's basically hitting with one leg. So that's no good. Why the Tigers played him in the 3 spot for so long knowing that? Well, who knows. That's the Tigers for you. But on one is giving up on Ordonez yet. He should heat up a bit as the weather does.3. What has been the biggest surprise for the Tigers this season?
What has been the biggest surprise for the Tigers this season?
The lineup hasn't been producing. Even those of us who look at such things with eyes open and sabermetric awareness are surprised the lineup has been this bad. Austin Jackson went way past regression to a complete collapse. Magglio Ordonez has started atrocious as we said. And no one could predict Victor Martinez would hit the DL of course. So run scoring has been atrocious, putting pressure on everyone else to play that much better.
Closer Jose Valverde is having a good start to the year. How does the rest of the pen shape up?
The pen is a bit uncertain right now. The seventh inning has been a bit of a struggle in the past, but Brayan Villarreal and Al Alburquerque (Al-Al if you will) have made the middle innings a bit easier to stomach. Al-Al, especially, has been good. Recently he struck out six batters of the nine he faced, making him the first Tigers pitcher to do that since 1984's MVP. The lefty relievers, Brad Thomas and Daniel Schlereth, aren't giving me a lot of confidence right now though Schlereth might be coming around. Joaquin Benoit just seems to be broken. He seems to have almost totally abandoned his slider. All-in-all, it's not great but it could be worse.
Miguel Cabrera is off to a great start again. I don't suppose he'd want to take the series off? Is there a way to pitch him?
Every team is learning, you can't pitch to him. You just have to pitch around him. Of course that was a lot easier with Brennan Boesch batting fifth than Victor Martinez. But teams have pitched around him to get to V-Mart too. The Yankees did contain him Thursday, but that might have been luck as much as anything.
Anything else Jays fans should know about the Tigers? Could we switch divisions with you?
No. Goodness no. The Tigers haven't won a division title since 1987. They'd never win one again. Really, the Sox and Yankees should just be in a division of their own and everyone else gets to leave. The MLB really does need to find a solution to make the AL East more competitive. In the past few years the Jays could have won the Central division at least once, maybe more times I think but they barely have a puncher's chance at making the playoffs as things stand.