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 French to open second half for Tigers

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PostSubject: French to open second half for Tigers   Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:42 pm

French to open second half for Tigers
Verlander, Jackson's order depend on ASG work

By Mike Scott / Special to MLB.com

07/12/09 1:34 PM ET

DETROIT -- The Tigers have set their rotation for the first week following the All-Star break.

Rookie Luke French (1-0, 1.93 ERA) will get the start Friday night in the Bronx for the first of a three-game series against the New York Yankees. He will be followed by All-Stars Edwin Jackson (7-4, 2.52 ERA) and Justin Verlander, on Saturday and Sunday, although manager Jim Leyland isn't sure yet in which order he will throw his top two pitchers.

The Tigers then get next Monday off before returning home to play Seattle July 21-23. Armando Galarraga is expected to start the series opener against the Mariners, with rookie Rick Porcello taking the mound on July 22.

Leyland isn't sure if he plans to pitch Verlander and Jackson in consecutive games as he did earlier in the season on a long-term basis or whether he will want to break them up again as he did in June.

"I just want to get those guys out as soon as possible [after the All-Star break]," Leyland said.

Porcello (8-6, 4.14 ERA) hasn't pitched since a July 5 loss in the Metrodome, when he gave up six runs (four earned) and seven hits in four innings of work. It was the second successive game in which the rookie was unable to last five innings. Porcello has pitched at least six innings just once since May 27.

Porcello threw approximately 50 pitches as part of a simulated game Friday afternoon. Leyland isn't sure if he is going to have Porcello throw another simulated game before his next schedule start.

Porcello says he isn't fatigued, but he values the extended rest that Leyland has given him.

"I just have to stay sharp physically and mentally," Porcello said. "[The extra rest] can't hurt. I don't mind not pitching in New York, because again, that rest can help me for going against Seattle."

Verlander can compare the experience he had as a rookie in 2006 to what Porcello has gone through this season. And the Detroit ace believes that Porcello is in a much better position than he himself was three years ago.

Verlander was officially "shut down" for a couple of starts around the All-Star break in 2006, but his reason was because of documented fatigue, something that Leyland nor anyone in the Tigers organization has cited for Porcello.

"It's good to give your arm a rest and stay in sync," Verlander said. "[Porcello] is in good shape. He does shoulder exercises and other [physical activities] that I never did in the Minor Leagues and didn't even know about three years ago."

Leyland believes French has an opportunity to become a long-term fixture in the Tigers rotation this season, but as with any rookie, the manager recognizes that once Major League teams get a detailed scouting report on French, his success will be determined by his ability to make adjustments.

"[French] may surprise some people the first time around, but we'll see what happens after a few starts," Leyland said.

If an injury occurs to the starting rotation, Zach Miner (5-1, 4.78 in 23 games and four starts), could be in line to get additional spot starts. Rookie Alfredo Figaro (1-1, 7.36 ERA in two starts) remains on the DL with a right wrist sprain. Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 13.50 in one start) also hopes to return in the second half and is on the DL recovering from thoracic outlet compression syndrome surgery,

Mike Scott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Sun Jul 12, 2009 8:13 pm

I'd have started Verlander or Jackson to start the second half - they'll be on full rest.


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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:14 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
I'd have started Verlander or Jackson to start the second half - they'll be on full rest.

They will pitch in NY also, just 1 day later.


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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:23 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
catbox_9 wrote:
I'd have started Verlander or Jackson to start the second half - they'll be on full rest.

They will pitch in NY also, just 1 day later.



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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:34 am

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
catbox_9 wrote:
I'd have started Verlander or Jackson to start the second half - they'll be on full rest.

They will pitch in NY also, just 1 day later.

Yeah, but if you get them a day later they might be able to make an extra start at the end of the year or start sooner in the playoffs if need be or whatever.


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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:39 am

catbox_9 wrote:
GoGetEmTigers wrote:
catbox_9 wrote:
I'd have started Verlander or Jackson to start the second half - they'll be on full rest.

They will pitch in NY also, just 1 day later.

Yeah, but if you get them a day later they might be able to make an extra start at the end of the year or start sooner in the playoffs if need be or whatever.

TRUE


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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:54 am

Plus if you start Verlander game 1 you can still split Verlander and Jackson which is apparently what Leyland wants to do. I have no real opinion on that move.


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PostSubject: Re: French to open second half for Tigers   Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:55 am

I liked what Tom Gage with the Det. News said about putting French between Verlander and Jackson:

Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tom Gage
Tigers might have new Rogers

One is 23 years old and just beginning his major league career.

The other is 44 and just ended his.

We never got official word Kenny Rogers retired. He just doesn't pitch anymore. But when he pitched, not only did he do more than his share of winning, he was a rotation's dream as an alternative.

Stick him between two hard throwers and watch the hitters struggle for their timing.

Now back to the 23-year-old, who happens to be left-hander Luke French -- who happened to win his first major league game Wednesday against the Royals at Comerica Park -- and he doesn't throw hard.

That's not to say French throws as softly at the beginning of his career as Rogers did at the end. But he's not a flame-thrower.

And that's the point as the Tigers move into the second half of the season with French as part of their rotation in a pennant race. And yes, it becomes a pennant race next Friday when Detroit's season resumes in New York after the All-Star break.

New arm helps

So far, it has been a good first half. A hopeful first half. A half which will leave fans wondering if the Tigers can keep it going.

Actual contention begins in the second half, however. It's meant for August and September, not May and June.

Into their intention of contention, however, the Tigers take these starters: Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, known commodities; Armando Galarraga, showing signs of returning to last year's effectiveness; rookie Rick Porcello, needing the mid-summer breather he's now getting, but coming off a fine first half.

And French, who's new to practically everyone.

Can the Tigers keep a second rookie in their rotation? Can French continue to pitch presentably? And where in the 1-5 order of the rotation is the best place for him to pitch?

On Wednesday, after French beat the Royals, manager Jim Leyland said this about any team facing a pitcher for the first time, as the Royals did with French:

Newness is a "huge factor."

"There were definitely a couple of times, because of the fact they hadn't seen him, that he got by with a couple of pitches he might not get by with next time," he said. "But I was really pleased with him.

"I have a lot of confidence in (Toledo manager) Larry Parrish and he really likes him. Yeah, he got away with a couple, but that's OK. Next time he might not throw (those) pitches."

The advantage for a pitcher facing a team for the first time?

"Hitters just aren't sure of the tilt on a breaking ball, the speed of a change-up or movement on a fastball," Leyland said.

Nice contrast

So there's no outward sign of trepidation in going forward.

And as for where to use French, pitching after the hard-throwing Verlander, as Rogers did in 2006, might be advisable. That's not to say French will enjoy the same success as Rogers, but his style of throwing presents the same contrast.

Isn't that right, Mark Teahen?

"He was all right, but we didn't help ourselves at all," the Royals third baseman said of French. "I think he benefited from throwing right after Verlander because everybody is jumping at the ball, and he's throwing off-speed stuff."

Just like you, Kenny.

And by the way, you are retired, aren't you?

tom.gage@detnews.com


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