The struggles of the offense are not just native to the Detroit Tigers
During the series with the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers offense struggled with runners in scoring position as they went 5-for-25 in the series. Overall, offense across all of baseball is down. The reasons behind this go a bit below the surface.
An article posted in FanGraphs by Jay Jaffe this week showed a few factors into the lack of offense. One, he discussed the data from Justin Choi on pitching data showing a velocity increase of 93.8 MPH, up from 93.4 MPH from the previous season. Starting pitchers, as a whole, as Jay noted, are emptying their gas tank earlier in the game in the 5th and 6th inning, compared to the 7th inning as we have seen regularly. The league batting average heading to Friday’s day of action is the lowest it has ever been. The average runs scored per game by a team is just 3.99.
So what does that have to do with the Detroit Tigers? Their bullpen has been a benefactor of this. Last season, the Tigers struggled in April, as through 12 games, their bullpen had given up 62 runs, with an ERA of 6.65 in 46 innings of work. This season, the Tigers’ bullpen has thrown 54 innings, with an ERA of 2.65 ERA. Interesting enough, the K per 9 last season was 9.39, compared to this season so far, it stands at 6.96. The Tigers are simply taking advantage of the bad offense start across the league.
The evolution of Gregory Soto will help
During today’s press conference, manager A.J. Hinch discussed Gregory Soto and how he has been able to sync up his delivery more and the ability to throw more strikes. While his numbers do not reflect that at the moment, his two inning stint against the Yankees on Thursday was vital in picking up the win.
The work of the bullpen has been a huge help as the starters will go deeper into games. Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez and Jacob Barnes are among the way too early leaders in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) a stat according to MLB.com defines it as “FIP is similar to ERA, but it focuses solely on the events a pitcher has the most control over — strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches and home runs. It entirely removes results on balls hit into the field of play.” So with some of the defensive miscues the Tigers have had this season, the bullpen has held it down: Here are their numbers:
As strikeouts go, Fulmer with K per 9 of 11.12 and Jimenez at 10.50 have been showing the most swing and miss stuff. This next week will be not only a good test for the offense to see how their pitching staff fairs against some traditionally potent offenses. The Tigers are hitting the road next week, starting with their division rivals, the Minnesota Twins, before heading to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers.