Wrapping up the mid season report that I started over a week ago, (I grade my effort a solid D) I'm going to hand out the grades for the pitching staff.
Kenny Rogers: Rogers first half was nothing short of spectacular culminating in being selected to start the All-Star game since "Wabash" George Mullin in nineteen aught-nine. Now I know it hasn't been that long since a Tiger started the All-Star game (Jack Morris 1985) but it seems like it. So far I've enjoyed Rogers pitching, for some reason I have a greater appreciation for older, crafty pitchers who rely on changing speeds and tossing junk than I do watching guys who thrive on how naturally filthy their stuff is. The one downside to the Rogers era is Jim Price's need to refer to Rogers as "The Professor" approximately 5,729 times a game. I'm also concerned about Rogers ability to pitch as well as he has going forward as he has perennially been a better first half pitcher especially in recent seasons. Regardless I'm grading only the first half. Grade: B.
Jeremy Bonderman: At the beginning of the year I wrote that I was a little down on Jeremy Bonderman and thought that he had probably leveled off as a pitcher. Statements like this just go to prove that I am a complete idiot who has no business writing about sports but as long as its free and as long as I have time on my hands no one will be able to stop me, and even then I'm still way more qualified to do this than Rob Parker. Anyways Bonderman has arguably been the best pitcher on the staff this year and is coming off an amazing June where he posted a 1.77 ERA over five starts and unleashed a slider that was practically unhittable. Grade: A-
Justin Verlander: Wow. I had tempered my expectation before the season started and thought Verlander would struggle a little in his first full season in the big leagues. Well after another masterful performance against the Royals tonight Verlander is sitting third in the A.L in ERA behind Liriano, and Lackey and leads is second in wins with 11. When was the last time a minor leaguer with hype panned out for the Tigers? Torey Lovullo? Greg Gohr? Cade Gaspar? Eric Munson? Randy Smith has forever ruined any faith I have in the word prospect but Verlander/Zumaya are slowly changing that. Grade: A+
Nate Robertson: After a rocky first couple of starts that had me calling for his spot in the rotation, Robertson has pitched amazingly well. He still seems to start in an inordinate amount of games that I attend as he's started three of the seven Ive been to so far. Also he's lining Jim Bouton's pockets by chewing 100 pouches of Big League Chew thus providing the inane Mario Impemba another reason to get a raging semi other than looking at Rod Allen's curvaceous body. Where were we? Grade: B
Mike Maroth: I feel bad for Maroth. He went out and got his brains beat in for four straight years especially as the overmatched "ace" of the 2003 season where he got the stigma of being the first 20 game loser in the five man rotation era. And then when the Tigers finally get good wit Maroth pitching well he goes and gets injured. Grade: B
Zach Miner: Miner has been a saving grace for the Tigers. At the time of the Maroth injury it appeared the Tigers had a major hole to fill at the back of the rotation. I thought we would be subjected to Roman Colon beatdowns every fifth day or get real desperate and sign Jose Lima to fill out the rotation and just outright concede every fifth game. Then out of nowhere Miner who spawned out of the same primordial ooze that gave us Chris Shelton and Toxie starts his career at a 6-1 clip with a 2.57 ERA as well as some insurance should Maroth not be ready to pitch effectively in a pennant race. Grade: A
Joel Zumaya: Zumaya has been spectacular in his first season in the majors as arguably the most dominant middle relief pitcher in the game, averaging well over a K an inning. He's also the most exciting pitcher the Tigers have had coming out of the pen since the immortal and MTMO favorite Matt Anderson. It will be interesting to see if Zumaya will become a closer in the future or move into the rotation. Grade: A.
Fernando Rodney: Rodney has been wildly inconsistent. He is nearly unhittable as evidenced by his .187 BAA but when his mechanics are off he's more wild than (insert metaphor) and let me tell you that's wild. It's getting late. Grade: B
Todd Jones: Just typing his name gives me chills. The problem with Jones, other than the fact that he sucks, is that I can't escape him. The other night I had a dream that I was living in a huge apartment with nice furniture AND I was dating Mandy Moore and it was all ruined by Todd Jones blowing a save. Honest to God this happened. Todd Jones is turning into my version of Freddy Krueger. If I'm found in my sleep screaming "He walked in the winning run!!!!" before gasping for air and dying you know who's responsible. Grade: D-
Chris Spurling: He pitched o.k. but hopefully his big #48 pendant goes on sale on eBay in a couple of months Grade: D+
Fredo Ledezma: Before last season I wrote he was the second coming of Pedro Martinez. I was obviously wrong, but I'm happy to see him back with the Tigers and he's pitched well in limited duty so far. Grade: I.
Jamie Walker: My friend Bill said that when a team is destined to have a magical season it seems as though they get career years from average players. So when you look back on that team twenty years from now on baseball-reference.com you can say things like "Holy Hell Jamie Walker had a 1.70 ERA in 60 appearances that year, how'd that happen at 35 no less."
Jason Grilli: Grilli's numbers are solid but for some reason I hate him. Maybe its from the three straight bases loaded walks against Boston and for the fact that he made himself out to be a hero for getting Albert Pujols out in a win over the Cardinals, or in other words for doing his job. Grade: C.