October 6, 2006


Tigers' pitchers blister Yankees (RONALD BLUM, 10/06/06, The Associated Press)

Justin Verlander overpowered Alex Rodriguez with 100 mph heat. Joel Zumaya topped that, his fastball whizzing by at 102.

The New York Yankees never saw what was coming, and the Detroit Tigers headed home with a split.

Verlander and Detroit's bullpen held down New York's mighty offense, Curtis Granderson's go-ahead triple off Mike Mussina capped a comeback, and Detroit beat the Yankees 4-3 Thursday to tie their best-of-five AL playoff series at one game apiece.

"There's a lot of people doubting us," Zumaya said. "A lot of people don't expect the Tigers to come out and play as good as we did. We have to prove ourselves and, obviously, we proved it a little bit today."

Their pitching is sufficiently superior that it may not matter, but how does Leyland not have Jeremy Bonderman going until Game 4?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 6, 2006 8:00 AM

They need Bonderman to wrap-up the series.

Zoomalicious made Jeter, Giambi and Arod look like North Koreans entertaining private thoughts: scared and lost.

When he's on, Zumaya is the most entertaining player in baseball.

Posted by: Palmcroft at October 6, 2006 9:33 AM

Bonderman splits pre-all-star/post-all-star:

3.46/4.87 era, .237 baa/.285 baa, 1.14/1.5 whip

Any questions?

And the youngster's got 214 ip on his arm, 26 more than he's pitched before. Jimbo went all Ozzie on his arm.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 6, 2006 10:08 AM

Better questions are why is Todd Jones, who you just know will blow a save in this series, closing instead of Zumaya, and why does Leyland insist on batting the attrocious Polanco 2nd, and Casey 3rd, with his best player, Guillen 5th?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 6, 2006 10:11 AM

Jones was one of the best closers in baseball this year.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2006 10:14 AM

But he's 2nd best on the team.

Jones vs. Z-man:

3.94/1.94 era, 3.94/10.48!!!! k/9, .276/1.87 baa, .691/.556 ops against.

Under a better manager, by the all-star break Zman is the closer and Jones the setup guy.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 6, 2006 10:26 AM

Aha. I've reflected on Leyland's reasoning and it makes sense.

Todd Jones is the relief equivalent of Wang for the Yanks. He's gives up a lot of hits and strikes out very few.

So the last thing you'd want to do is bring a guy like Wang in with runners on base.

Leyland therefore uses Z in the high leverage situations, runners on etc -- situations in which, statheads have been screaming for years, a team ought to bring its closer in, rather than saving him for the 9th.

And Jones comes in to start the 9th, with no runners on, when a few singles won't do much harm.

In effect, Z is there closer in the true sense of the word, in the old Goose Gossage coming in the 7th or 8th or whenever, rather than in the way managers today (mis)use their "closers."

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 6, 2006 10:46 AM

Jones is one of the best closers in baseball. You'd replace him with Mariano, if you had him, but not with a rookie.


Posted by: oj at October 6, 2006 11:46 AM

Very good, Jim. You've also explained why Zumaya is the highest value pitcher on Tigers. And, for oj's sake, why relievers are not interchangeable commodities. Zumaya is simply one of the best players in baseball, at 21 years of age; he is not some bullpen hack.

Posted by: Palmcroft at October 6, 2006 12:09 PM

Nor is he an elite closer, like Jones.

Papelbon had terrific peripherals too, he just wasn't a very good closer.

Only one stat matters for starters, wins, and closers, save percentage.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2006 12:12 PM

Which is why Joe Neikro and Gaylord Perry were so much greater than Sandy Koufax: it's all about the W's.


Posted by: Palmcroft at October 6, 2006 12:15 PM

Yes, all that matters about Koufax is that he won two games for every one he lost. If I told you that you could have a pitcher who was guaranteed to duplicate any one of his stats over the course of his career, that's the one you'd take.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2006 12:36 PM

C'mon oj, peripherals matter for the long term. You can get lucky for a season, but long term you'll get in trouble.

2 and 3rd no out, who you bringing in? Jones? or Z? It's not even a question. And Leyland knows the correct answer, which is why he uses Z in the high leverage situations.

As for wins/losses and save %, here's Jones this season:

2 wins, 6!!!! losses. 37 saves, 6 blow saves. Slightly better than his 79% career save rate.

For comparison here's Pamplemousse:

4 wins, 2 losses. 35 saves. 6 blown saves. Slightly lower than Jones, but I'd bet that if P had 2 more save chances he gets them both.

Hoffman, K-rod, Wagner, Jenks, Ryan, Nathan, Gordon and Mo all had better save % than your boy Jones, most of them signifantly so.

Out of those in the AL, I'd much prefer not only Z and Mo, but also Jenks, Ryan, K-rod, and Nathan to Jones. That puts Jones oin the middle of the pack at best.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 6, 2006 1:05 PM

Baseball is played day to day, not in the long term.

If the question is who you'd rather have closing five years from now the answer may be Zumaya.

Long term Jones has been a quality closer. Long term Zumaya is an if. If you're lucky he's Rob Dibble. If you're not he's Darren Dreifort.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2006 1:22 PM

Chitown Jim apparently hasn't seen ZoomZoom's vague acquaintance with the strike zone on occasion. He can dazzle and disappoint. Jones throws strikes.
Polanco doesn't strike out and has around a .400 average with men on base. He can advance the runner by hitting the other way or bunting. He does the little things that don't show up in the box score a la Nellie Fox.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at October 6, 2006 8:18 PM