The Tigers try to pick themselves up after last night's beating with a doubleheader today. First, Buck Farmer faces Venezuelan journeyman Yohan Pino.
Detroit Tigers (68-58) at Minnesota Twins (57-70)
Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Yohan Pino is a 30 year old right-hander who was signed by the Twins as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2004. He toiled throughout the minor leagues for a decade, pitching for the Twins, Indians, Twins (again), Indians (again), Blue Jays, Indians (again), Blue Jays (again), Reds, and Twins (again). The AL Central can't quit this guy, apparently. He finally got called up to the majors this season and has largely been better than his ERA suggests. Prior to his last start -- where the Houston Astros put up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings -- his ERA was 4.59.
Pino's long climb to the majors wasn't due to a lack of results, but rather a lack of stuff. His fastball has averaged 89-90 miles per hour, topping out at 91.4 on the radar gun according to Fangraphs. He also relies on a slider against right-handers, throwing it nearly 40 percent of the time. The slider has been decent -- righties are hitting just .167 against it -- but it hasn't stopped them from putting up a .761 OPS overall. Pino also throws the slider against lefties, but far less often. He will also mix in a change-up and curveball, neither of which have been very good. In fact, the slider has been his best pitch against lefties too. They are hitting just .136 with a .182 slugging average while whiffing on it nearly 19 percent of the time.
Buck Farmer looked better in his first big league start than his ERA indicates, and far better than Robbie Ray did last night. Aside from one bad pitch to Travis Snider, Farmer demonstrated decent command and only walked one batter in five innings (though he hit another). He struck out four, including a pair of lefties swinging in the second inning. Since then? Things... haven't gone well. Farmer made a brief appearance in Triple-A -- emphasis on "brief" -- allowing eight runs (seven earned) in one-third of an inning. That's an ERA of 189.00. For comparison's sake, Rick Porcello's ERA in his awful start against the Los Angeles Angels was 121.44. Yeah, it was that bad.
If we have nothing else, then at least we have this
It's hard to be positive about the Tigers after last night's performance. From starting pitching depth to anything that comes out of the bullpen, that game exposed just about every weakness the Tigers have as a team. Today, they have to navigate a doubleheader with a depleted bullpen and a pair of starters that may be fortunate to get through five or six innings. This might be as close to rock bottom as this season can offer.
That said, the Tigers have been in this position before. They had the same record in both 2011 and 2012 after 126 games, and were facing a 2 1/2 game deficit in the division in 2012. The unbalanced schedule gives the Tigers a shot to storm back and take the AL Central crown, even if the results right now show no signs of that happening. So enjoy watching Buck Farmer today, pray for Anibal Sanchez to get healthy, and know that this season is far from being over.
Farmer's MLB ERA eclipses his Triple-A ERA. Every Twins player homers, even the pitchers. Ron Gardenhire puts Joe Mauer in center field and Oswaldo Arcia on the mound "just to give them a chance." The first game takes so long that the second one gets pushed back to tomorrow. The Tigers recall Ian Krol in the sixth inning just to watch him give up nine runs. Phil Coke throws a scoreless inning.
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