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Written by Matt Snyder | 10 May 2012

Dontrelle_WillisThe story of Dontrelle Willis’ fall from stardom is one of the strangest and saddest you’ll see in the game. By the age of 23, Dontrelle had racked up two All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, and was named the runner-up for a Cy Young award. He would have one more successful season before completely and utterly imploding.

Of course we all know how Willis came to be a Tiger: in the December 2007 blockbuster deal that also netted Miguel Cabrera in exchange for top prospects Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller along with Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern. It now sounds strange in hindsight, seeing as Miguel Cabrera has matured into perhaps one of the top-three hitters in the game while Willis has faded into oblivion, but I honestly can’t tell you which player I was more excited about at the time.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 09 May 2012

AlexAvilaCatcherJason Beck reported on Tuesday evening that Alex Avila injured his left patella tendon during Monday night’s loss to the Seattle Mariners. Avila, who suffered from soreness in both knees at the end of last season, implied that playing through the pain wouldn’t risk further injury.

“I can’t do anything more to it,” Avila said. “It’s just a pain tolerance issue. It’s not going to require surgery or anything like that.”

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Written by Matt Snyder | 09 May 2012

PrinceFielderIt’s tough to catch all the action when the Tigers are out west due to the late start times, but MLB.com does a decent job of making highlight videos available. Here are some quick links to get you caught up if you missed portions of the game.

Dirks’ RBI singleAustin Jackson lead off the game with a double, and Andy Dirks immediately knocked him home with a base hit to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Dirks’ two-run double – Andy was back at it the very next inning, lacing a double down the right field line plating Brennan Boesch and Gerald Laird to extend the lead to 3-0.

Young’s two-run doubleDelmon Young joined the fray two batters later with a double of his own. Dirks and Prince Fielder came around to score to make it 5-0.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 07 May 2012

MaxScherzerUpsideDownOne of the biggest oddities of the early-season Detroit Tigers has been the inconsistent results of starting pitcher Max Scherzer. He’s allowed 22 runs in only 31.1 inning of work, and has struggled to pitch deep into games (Max has pitched into the sixth inning in only three of six starts). But even though he’s labored in many of his outings, Scherzer currently finds himself leading the league in strikeouts per nine innings (at 10.3).

So, if he seemingly still has good stuff (and I don’t think he could rack up the strikeouts if he didn’t), then why hasn’t he been able to keep his ERA even below 6.00? I think it’s clear that Scherzer hasn’t pitched very well in several of his starts, I don’t want to absolve him of all the ‘blame’, but I think he’s also been more than a bit unlucky to start the year.

Max’s 6.32 is horrible, but his FIP and xFIP (two ERA estimators that look only at strikeouts, walks, and home runs) are 3.85 and 3.84 respectively. And we see that even though Max had a seven walk outing in New York, his 3.7 BB/9 rate, although higher than we’d like it to be, isn’t completely out of line with his 3.1 BB/9 career average. And neither the walk rate, nor his 1.15 HR/9 rate is enough to explain the 2.47 run difference between his actual ERA and his FIP numbers.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 06 May 2012

DrewSmylyThe Detroit Tigers’ offense is taking some heat after managing to score only ten runs in the series against the Chicago White Sox (that’s 3.3 runs per game, or nearly half the run scoring pace we expected them to hit to start the year). But I think the disappointment (all though justified) is overshadowing three very good pitching performances from members of the starting rotation.

The Tigers were facing a ‘must win series’ (or as close to must win as you can get in early May) with Drew Smyly (a rookie), Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello (who had both been plagued with some recent struggles). But the three hurlers pitched more than admirably. Here’s the combined line:

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Written by Matt Snyder | 06 May 2012

DougFisterThe Detroit Tigers optioned Brayan Villarreal back to Toledo to make room on the roster for Doug Fister who has been out of action since he injured his torso back on April 7. He's listed as the probable pitcher for Monday's game against the Seattle Mariners (exactly one month to the day since his injury).

The Tigers must be ecstatic to see Fister return. The club was 0-3 when his rotation slot came up while he was out (three starts by Adam Wilk), so they could do for a boost. Fister is 8-1 with a 1.70 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP since he joined the Tigers late last season. Justin Verlander got all the attention (and he did deserve it), but Fister was every bit as good for the Tigers during the stretch run.

Fister pitched four innings of scoreless ball with five strikeouts, one walk, and two hits allowed last week in a rehab start for the Toledo Mud Hens.

Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 06 May 2012

Former Tiger fan favorite/whipping boy Brandon Inge hit his first home run with his new club this afternoon, a three-run blast. But Inge is still just batting .143/.200/.333 on the year (his average as an Oakland Athletic is under .200), so it's not like he's busted out after leaving the Tigers.

Here's a link to the highlight video.



Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.

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