With all of the offensive firepower the Tigers have this season, many that follow the club feel the team will go as far as their pitching will take them. Well, after a 4-2 road trip through Anaheim and Texas it appears the Bengals young staff is coming along very nicely. I remember Bob Cluck stating last year that it may take until 2006 before we actually see this staff put it together. However, we are seeing plenty of signs of maturity in 2005. Nate Robertson has put together three consecutive strong outings. His offspeed stuff has been the key. After his last start in Texas, Nate said guys spend their minor league years trying to pop the radar gun because that’s what gets you noticed. When you get to the big leagues though, it’s all about getting outs. It’s not about how hard you throw, and he realizes that now. Mike Maroth has been as steady as usual and Jason Johnson is pitching much better than he did this spring.
Then there is Bondermania! Jeremy is quickly becoming scary good. I was chatting with my partner Rod Allen in Texas the other day before the game and we agreed that the only young pitcher we would even consider taking ahead of Bonderman right now is Josh Beckett…..maybe. I’ve never met a guy that young with as much quiet confidence. I don’t care what was written in Moneyball, Billy Beane would take Jeremy right here, right now. Wil Ledezma has been up and down, but he’s only 24 and had just 16 big league starts coming into the season. Give him time. Right now, the Tigers are one of just five teams in the American League with an ERA under 4.00. At 3.86, they are fourth in the league. That’s progress.