Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weather or not

And so game one of the Motown Showdown gets postponed. Theoretically to 11 a.m. today, but there's rain in the forecast again in Detroit.

The rainout and subsequent doubleheader doesn't affect the pitching assignments for this series. But it does create issues for both teams for the weekend. Nick Blackburn and Rick Porcello had been penciled in for Saturday's games; now those would be on three days rest rather than four. That's a problem to be resolved on another day, but it does eliminate the notion of handling the fifth-starter issue (and Friday's start) by going to four starters for the final week.

The day-night doubleheader in Comerica probably means Joe Mauer will catch the first game and DH in the nightcap, which is not optimal but is probably wise.

By the same token, the Tigers are likely to use their back-up catcher, Alex Avila, in one of the games. Jim Leyland hasn't been reluctant to pair rookie Avila with rookie Porcello — two of Avila's last three starts have come in games started by Porcello — and he's given Avila (a left-handed hitter) just 10 at-bats against lefties, so I rather expect Avila to catch the day game against Blackburn rather than the night game against Brian Duensing. (On the other hand, Avila has faced Duensing, hasn't faced Blackburn, and Gerald Laird is 3-for-10 against Blackburn with two walks.)

For what it's worth — not much, given how little Avila has played — the Tigers ERA with Avila catching is 5.87, with Laird 4.21. Laird hasn't had a good year at the plate, but he's got a legitimate argument for a Gold Glove.

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