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News » Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-04-21

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-04-21

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-04-21
Every season starts out the same -- teams searching tentatively for an identity.

It takes time to sort out whether a team is going to have the kind of pitching staff it hoped it would during the winter and spring.

Can we hit? Do we play defense? Who are the leaders? What does our rotation look like? Can we shut teams down at the end of games?

The last two years for the Tigers, the general answers have been, "No, no, depends on what day it is, mediocre to poor, and yes (2007)/no (2008)."

Manager Jim Leyland said in spring training his Tigers would be a good team, but he always says that.

The organization felt it would hit, which is why it went hard after upgrading the defense. And with plenty of veterans there appears to be no shortage of leaders, although the team will feed off 1B Miguel Cabrera offensively.

The key questions entering the season were starting pitching and the bullpen.

It appears the Tigers will have a solid starting threesome of righties Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga and Edwin Jackson. All three have had lights-out moments and in general their starts have given the Tigers a chance to win.

Rookie righty Rick Porcello looks like a keeper and there are enough bodies to give Leyland hope he'll be able to find a consistent fifth starter before the season's done.

The front end of the bullpen is questionable but so far the back end has given the team reason for hope.

Righty Fernando Rodney appears to have taken hold of the closer's role (3-for-3 in saves, one base runner allowed so far this season) and righty Ryan Perry, the hard-throwing No. 1 2008 draft choice, looks like someone who can be useful anywhere from the middle to late innings as he learns the nuances of being a big-league reliever.

Lefty Bobby Seay is emerging as a late-game force and potential setup man. He's improved steadily over the last three seasons.

What would really firm up the bullpen is a healthy and effective righty Joel Zumaya, who could rejoin the team from a rehab assignment within a week.

The traditional evaluation period in Detroit is the first 40 games. But as the Tigers near the 20-game mark, some positive signs are showing.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 21, 2009

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