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  1. Quite honestly, I’ve never played organized baseball or coached or any of that, but I thought he (Valverde) looked as if snapping his arm back on his fastball release instead of following through to any point across the shoulder/chest plane. Maybe that’s what they’re looking at? Does seem that his fastball was what Ichiro and Ibanez crushed (up and middle of strike zone) for those homers to tie Game 1…….

    Comment by Gabriel BatCat Bogart — October 15, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  2. Is anyone going to write an article about how the Tigers rotation who lead all of MLB in the majority of pitching stats now has a playoff ERA below 1 to go along with 28 consecutive scoreless innings, 1 away from the MLB record?

    Comment by Cory — October 15, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

  3. Not now that you asked.

    Comment by Jeff Sullivan — October 15, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  4. He has done that his whole career. He’s always had shitty mechanics. Now he has shitty mechanics, no secondary pitch, and a fastball that has lost a few ticks since his prime. Oh, and he has never had any command anyway. This is what happens to stuff pitchers once their stuff leaves them. Sometimes they develop command along the way, but Valverde never did.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — October 15, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  5. I forgot you are a expert in the bio-mechanics of pitching. So his “shitty” mechanics produce fastballs into the upper 90’s during Valverde’s peak and to stay health enough to pitch at least 50 games for the past five years? But that doesn’t matter. It looks herky-jerky and his follow-through doesn’t look right to you. That means they are shitty. You should really tell this to Jose Valverde himself. He would want to know that he has shitty mechanics and that his mechanics are holding him back because mechanics are 100% the only answer to any pitching struggles.

    Comment by GG — October 15, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  6. I was curious about how the Tigers top 4 stacked up against the remaining playoff rotations, and figure WAR/games started might be a useful way to look at things.

    Caveats: I didn’t try to adjust for things like Fister, Scherzer, Pettitte, or others that I might not know about leaving early due to a mid-start injury. I didn’t adjust for Lance Lynn’s few relief appearances. I used 2012 stats only, which isn’t ideal, especially for a guy like Carpenter. And frankly, I don’t how I should account for Zito, since he’s likely to be pulled for Lincecum or someone at the first sign of trouble. But the rough takeaways shouldn’t be affected too much.

    Here are the results:

    GS — WAR — WAR/GS – Pitcher/Team
    33 — 6.8 — 0.21 — Verlander
    32 — 4.6 — 0.14 — Scherzer
    26 — 3.6 — 0.14 — Fister
    12 — 1.4 — 0.12 — Sanchez (Tigers)
    19 — 2.3 — 0.12 — Sanchez (Marlins)
    122 – 18.7 – 0.15 — Tigers Total

    28 — 4.8 — 0.17 — Sabathia
    12 — 1.7 — 0.14 — Pettitte
    33 — 3.9 — 0.12 — Kuroda
    32 — 1.9 — 0.06 — Hughes
    105 – 12.3 – 0.12 — Yankees Total

    32 — 4.4 — 0.14 — Wainwright
    33 — 3.6 — 0.11 — Lohse
    29 — 2.9 — 0.10 — Lynn
    3 — 0.2 — 0.07 — Carpenter
    97 – 11.1 – 0.11 — Cardinals Total

    32 — 3.8 — 0.12 — Cain
    32 — 3.4 — 0.11 — Bumgarner
    31 — 2.6 — 0.08 — Vogelsong
    32 — 0.8 — 0.03 — Zito
    127 – 10.6 – 0.08 — Giants Total

    Comment by ralph — October 15, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  7. “What they mean is that Valverde can’t pitch as effectively against lefties, but he can still retire them far more often than not. Whenever Valverde faces any lefty, the odds remain in Valverde’s favor.”

    I know what you’re saying and all, but isn’t this true of most hitters v pitchers? Unless the batter is Barry Bonds, they all make outs more often than not.

    Comment by MrKnowNothing — October 15, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  8. But they have Al Alburquerque, a man with a name that sounds like it came from a pulp western or professional wrestling, so that’s got to count for something.

    Comment by The Humber games — October 15, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  9. It’s funny how the Tigers-Yankees series feels like it’s almost over, but the Tigers have these glaring flaws, and the Yankees have some real strengths. Some of which you may not see, looking at the stats. I get the feeling that this series is far from over.

    I wrote a post about that Yankee’s under-hyped strengths today.

    Comment by outliarbaseball.com — October 15, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  10. I think it was already pretty clear that the Tigers go 4 deep better than any other team in the playoffs, and perhaps better than any other team period (Rays? Angels?).

    What’s interesting is that the Cards go deep, too, although Carpenter is disguising it. That’s if you believe in Lohse and Lynn, of course.

    The Yanks lack a 4th, and you need to believe in Vogelsong to get the Giants to three if they’re going to avoid Lincecum (and his struggles this year).

    That Cards offense, though. Yikes. I’m a Tiger fan, and the rematch of 2006 scares me.

    Comment by tmorgan — October 15, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  11. Anyone who thinks that the series is over is dumb. Even I realize this, and I’m a Tigers fan.

    Comment by bada bing — October 15, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  12. The problem has always come down to managing. Leyland puts valverede in all these situations merely out of having the title “closer.” When things go well, people praise Leyland’s loyalty and trust in his guys. When you have Saturday night, it is blind trust and proof he’s lost his marbles.

    The truth is probably somewhere in between. I’ve always found the way Leyland manages how he plays certain individuals screwy. (Going back to 2009 with our collapse, and then game 163)

    Comment by Kevin — October 15, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  13. Yeah, it is. It’s just important for us to keep in mind what it means when someone says X can’t pitch to Y.

    Comment by Jeff Sullivan — October 15, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  14. I consider Leyland an above-average manager, albeit with some serious flaws. I’d prefer Showalter or Davey Johnson or Earl Weaver, but those aren’t options.

    He’s a leader, not a master tactician.

    Comment by tmorgan — October 15, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  15. It’s actually 29.0 consecutive IP w/o an ER, which is 3rd all-time. ’74 A’s at 30.1 and 1905 Giants at 44.0 are the two longer.

    Comment by roscoe — October 15, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

  16. The problem with Valverde is obvious- he’s pregnant. Look at his belly. It’s like in that movie with Arnie where he gets pregnant.

    Comment by Shrewd Cat — October 15, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  17. Would you teach your kid to throw a baseball like Valverde does? He looks uncomfortable throwing a baseball. I’m guessing that’s because he probably is.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — October 15, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  18. One cause for the perceived poor quality of Detroit’s relievers is that they don’t have the same sort of benefit of the doubt from the umpire behind home that the Tigers’ starters see. Scherzer, for instance, had a strike zone about 8″ expanded on the outside edge according to the electronic tracking, but his relievers saw the proper strike zone from pitch #1. This puts unnecessary pressure and unfair criticism on the relievers and makes the starters look comparatively better than they are.

    Comment by Northhampstonstead — October 15, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  19. As of now it’s only 22.1 scoreless innings. The concept of unearned runs is over-rated anyway.

    Comment by Wellhitball — October 15, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

  20. You can’t add Anibal’s WAR with the Marlins to the Tigers WAR total.

    I smell a homer.

    Comment by Wellhitball — October 15, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  21. An expanded strike zone like this:

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/location.php-pitchSel=450729&game=gid_2012_10_13_detmlb_nyamlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=.gif

    Comment by Cluth — October 15, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  22. Or this:
    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/location.php-pitchSel=434671&game=gid_2012_10_14_detmlb_nyamlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=.gif

    Comment by Cluth — October 15, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

  23. I believe Verlander actually had less pitches tracked outside the strike zone, called strikes, than the A’s pitchers did in game five.

    Comment by Cluth — October 15, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  24. Yeah, Scherzer totally had 8″, aka roughly half the distance of strike zone, off the corner. That’s is surely a reasonable statement. Furthermore, the Tigers starters clearly got that zone all year, hence their #1 overall starter WAR. Thus they look vastly superior to their largely equivalent bullpen.

    Comment by Colin — October 15, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  25. I agree that he’s a leader and not a tactician. A major flaw that Leyland consistently exhibits is his regard for “role” as a “position”. For example, since Cabrera is the #3 hitter, he’ll put Don Kelly in the #3 hole when he plays 3B for Cabrera so that everyone else in the lineup maintains their lineup “position”. This gets even worse on Sundays when he likes to rest multiple starters. This results in strange decisions such as keeping Delmon Young #5 in the lineup all year despite his obvious lack of skill at the plate.

    I believe that due to this tendency we’ll continue to see the bullpen in “positions” with Benoit as the 8th inning man and Valverde as 9th inning man, Alburquerque won’t get work, and continuing to forego platoon advantages.

    Comment by Vegemitch — October 15, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

  26. Pregnancy hormone is a banned substance by MLB, hopefully he won’t get busted!

    Comment by Vegemitch — October 15, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  27. The WAR isn’t addible from the Marlins, but the WAR/per is the same. Fill in the blanks.

    So how many unearned runs did the ’74 A’s and 1905 Giants give up during their respective runs?

    Comment by Wellstrucknut — October 15, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  28. It just depends on what one is trying to do with the data. I showed all the data so people can make their own mental adjustments as applicable. For the purposes of this exercise, I really only cared about WAR/GS, so it was nice to know that that Anibal’s WAR/GS was approximately the same with the Marlins and Tigers and I showed that in case people were wondering.

    But if you want to take Anibal’s Marlins starts out, that actually would slightly increase the WAR/GS score for the Tigers, depending on which form of averaging one is using. I used total WAR divided by total GS for the ultimate number, but upon further reflection it probably makes more sense to take a straight average of each pitcher’s WAR/GS.

    Comment by ralph — October 15, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  29. I have no idea where you got these ideas on the lineup. This isn’t true at all… The one game that Cabrera sat this year (because of injury) Jeff Baker, his replacement, batted 8th. In fact, that was the only game that Cabrera- Fielder was not the 3-4 combination. Jackson leads off every game, Infante bats either 2nd or 9th, but other than that Leyland is not afraid to mix up his lineup. I believe (I couldn’t find anything to back this though) that he has used the most lineup combinations this year. His 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th spots literally change every day, depending on which corner outfielders he uses.

    Comment by Tak — October 15, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

  30. Thanks for this article Jeff. It was quite interesting, and a different perspective from many other recent articles. I learned something, and I appreciate your efforts.

    Comment by Ziggythebeagle — October 16, 2012 @ 12:41 am

  31. People gotta stop looking at that ridiculous strikezone tracker TBS is using and just watch the pitches.

    Comment by tmorgan — October 16, 2012 @ 2:24 am

  32. GG, the argument isn’t really that his mechanics are bad, as in, unhealthy. The arguments are that his mechanics are very unique and somewhat wild, therefore making them harder to repeat on every pitch. If you can’t repeat your mechanics, how can you expect to command your pitches?

    Comment by Nathan — October 16, 2012 @ 8:44 am

  33. Yeah, I agree. He seems very loyal to his players. I wouldn’t necessarily call him an inherent “players’ manager,” because of course we’ve all seen him be the disciplinarian. But with the iteration of the Tigers the last two or three seasons, I do think he’s been more a players’ manager. And you know, that’s probably to his credit as a leader and motivator, to understand his people and change his technique to get the most.

    As said before me, it really comes down to tactics. I can justify sometimes weighing psychology of your players over what is the proper tactical decision. But at this stage in the year, with Valverde having struggled essentially all season, the time to boost his confidence was June or July… not now.

    Comment by Nathan — October 16, 2012 @ 8:52 am

  34. So much wrong with this that it hurts my brain. I thank Cluth and Colin for having more patience.

    Comment by Nathan — October 16, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  35. I think this theory about the Tigers’ bullpen applies to just about every bullpen in the league. Save for a handful of dominant closers, just about every reliever has uneven platoon splits, and most could even be considered drastic. Managers should always look to maximize efficiency in their bullpens by not adhering to archaic “roles.”

    Comment by Dan — October 16, 2012 @ 10:13 am

  36. Agreed the Tigers bullpen isn’t that bad and it is a question of how you manage it. I have to admit I didn’t realize Benoit had such a bad homerun issue this year. Sheesh. But even at that he hasn’t been awful.

    Comment by wobatus — October 16, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  37. Nice that someone mentions Smyly and Porcello’s old roles here in a positive light. We usually hear that they aren’t relievers so they can’t pitch in relief. Phil Coke has a 4.95 ERA as a starter, Benoit 6.06, Dotel 5.61. Given that Smyly and Porcello are actually good enough to start, we might expect them to do even better out of the ‘pen.

    Comment by Chris Hannum — October 16, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  38. According to BrooksBaseball, Scherzer had 4 pitches between 3-6 inches off the plate called strikes.

    Not nearly the issue you seem to be making out of it.

    Comment by RationalSportsFan — October 16, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  39. His mechanics are clearly flawed. And he’s never been a “pitcher” so much as a “thrower” who could throw really well. But that skill set implodes at some point. That point may be now.

    Comment by Andrew — October 16, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  40. The problem for Valverde is that the Yankees lineup is stacked with GOOD lefties…

    Comment by Sean — October 16, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  41. Yes. Their postseason stats clearly back that statement up.

    Comment by Jeff — October 16, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  42. I didn’t need pitch tracks to show me how much the tigers were being given! I could see it!! It really seemed more expanded for left handed hitters as opposed to rightys! There was a serious amount of pitches that were balls and not even close! Even the announcers were questioning it! It was really bad in the Baltimore series! It reminded me of the last time the Yankees played the tigers in the playoffs! I’m curious to see how we’ll the tiger pitchers adapt when they aren’t given an expanded zone!

    Comment by Chris — October 18, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

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