Motown comes to the MinnyApple tomorrow for a three-game set over the holiday weekend in which Independence Day can be defined by a Twins' sweep, giving the boys a share of the Central lead for the first time in nearly two months.
After 08's last-place debacle at 74-88, the Tigers have impressed this season with a hold on first since May 10th. Their current lead in the Central is 3 over both the Chi Sox and our boys, against whom Detroit has dropped four of five thus far into the '09 campaign. Said lack of result against winning teams (see below) vibes with the norm for the Tigers, which buoys my belief that their impressive pace will weaken in ensuing weeks and months. Here are five reasons why we shouldn't expect Detroit to represent the Central come the fall:
(And a fine Holiday Weekend for all! Don't blow off any thumbs . . .)
As Detroit's 1-4 mark against the Twins intimates: the Tigers have struggled against clubs with winning marks. Entering Wednesday play, Detroit has played series against nine teams with winning records thus far in '09. Their series records against plus -.500 clubs? 2-6-1. Aside from their 6-0 mark against Texas, they've namely preyed on the weak.
2. Edwin Jackson
#2 starter Jackson has over-achieved thus far in '09, sporting a 2.49 ERA that's good for thirdamong A.L. starters. Yet, if past performance is indicative of future result - the run won't last. Jackson owns a 4.55 ERA in his life as a starter, and has already displayed signs of slowing, as evidenced by his last four starts whereupon he hasn't gathered a win and his ERA has risen in each outing. July will find the Tigers facing all Central opponents; Jackson's second go-round against divisional competition won't yield the 3.36 ERA from his combined first starts in Central contests. Familiarity breeds runs.
3. Fernando Rodney
Luminary Tiger skip Jimmy Leyland has long had a carousel of closers in Detroit; this year, Rodney's hopped on the horse and has gone 17-for-17 in save opportunities. But the numbers behind the numbers show some eventual peril with that pony. Rodney's 1.39 WHIP is leviathan for a closer, and ranks him as 101st among all MLB relievers. Furthermore, his 4.36 ERA is the second-highest for closers with 17 or more saves. While he remains save-perfect in '09, Rodney has blown 33 percent of his career save chances. Compare that to a stud like Joe Nathan, who has only dropped 11 percent in the course of his proven body of lifetime work.
4. Tiger bullpen
While further examination of the Detroit bullpen finds guys like Bobby Seay and Brendan Lyon showing bite, the Tiger pen as a whole sports some lowly rankings against A.L. peers. Entering Wednesday, the Detroit relief core ranks 10th or worse in the all-important categories of ERA, walks, WHIP, and Strikeout-to-Walk ratio. In addition, fireballer Joel Zumaya, when healthy, offers just a 4.10 ERA and owns the 67th "best" A.L. Strikeout-to-Walk mark at 1.59 - not what you want from a fella tossing his kind of rare heat.
5. Twins move
Under Gardy, the Twins have generally been a mid-to-late season club. Heading into this season, his strongest lifetime month is September (.570 winning clip), followed by July (.562). The boys have been unsteady as we reach mid-season, but when the Twins eventually regain their full compliment of players and (hopefully) address the puzzle that is our own pen, the run should come.