Tiger Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief — bullpen relief — as Detroit Tigers’ relievers mowed down the Toronto Blue Jays in the late innings last night and secured the Tigers first win of the season.
Ryan Perry made his Major League debut in the eighth and didn’t allow a runner. He was undoubtedly nervous, but now he has something upon which to build his confidence. At 22 years old, he is the second youngest member on the squad.
Bobby Seay pitched the seventh and looked good, too. Seay had a great spring training and everyone has been waiting to see if he could continue to perform during the regular season. So far so good.
But perhaps the most impressive performance was from a man I (and about 3 million other Tigers fans) had written off a long time ago: Fernando Rodney.
Rodney looked to have complete control of his stuff last night. He even looked at ease. Last year, he was so sloppy that his body was flying around just as much as his pitches. Rodney’s fast ball was perfection as he closed out the game in the ninth.
I laughed a few weeks ago when Manager Jim Leyland announced that Rodney was going to be his closer. Too many bad memories from last year kept popping into my head. In any great season, there are usually two or three players who step up and have stellar years. If 2009 proves to be that kind of season for Rodney, the 2009 Tigers season is going to be a fun one.
As for Leyland’s relief pitching strategies (i.e., three different pitchers pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, and leaving guys in for too long) I still am not a believer. If I guy is pitching well, I think he should be left in to pitch. If he’s pitching poorly, then you should yank him out.
Game two of this year was a terrible reminder of Leyland’s strange relief pitching strategies when he brought back Brandon Lyon to pitch the ninth after getting rocked the inning before. The Tigers could very easily be 2-1 right now if Leyland adjusted his thinking on the subject.
For now, I will settle with the peaceful feelings from last night’s game. Perry, Seay and Rodney just changed the outlook of the season in three short innings.