More scoring forces Tigers to carry 13 pitchers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Brad Ausmus

St. Petersburg, Fla. – Wasn’t it just a year ago the league was worried about a severe decline in scoring? Wasn’t it just last year when there was talk of expanding the strike zone and maybe lowing the mound again?

Forget that. Offense is up across baseball. There are 20 teams with a collective ERA over 4.00. There are three teams with an ERA over 5.00. There is only one team with an ERA under 3.00.

By comparison, last season 16 teams finished with ERAs over 4.00, and six of those teams were between 4.00-4.09.

“Last year people were claiming an offensive Armageddon was here, that nobody was scoring runs,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “It’s like the flavor of the day. 'There’s no offense. Let’s lower the mound.' Now there’s too much offense, so, 'Let’s raise the mound.'

“Not reactionary at all, is it?”

The one immediate impact, though, is that more teams are carrying an extra pitcher – 13 instead of 12, leaving them one position player short.

Catcher Holaday pitches, impresses Tigers with wicked knuckler

“I think that’s much more of an accepted practice now than it was before,” Ausmus said. “I don’t know how we go down to 12. I don’t see us doing it. Maybe we get through the All-Star break and people are rested – you might be able to do it.”

But not now. By the time the Tigers get to the break, they will have played 28 games in 29 days. You factor in some short outings by starters and some extra-inning games, and you see why carrying the extra pitcher is almost mandatory.

Miggy milestone

Miguel Cabrera entered Sunday’s game needing  one more RBI to reach 1,500 for his career. He will be the 55th player to achieve that milestone.

Tigers at Indians

Series: Three games at Progressive Field, Cleveland

First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 12:10 p.m. Wednesday

TV/radio: Monday, FSD, ESPN, 97.1; Tuesday-Wednesday, FSD, 97.1

Tigers starters: Monday, LHP Daniel Norris (1-0, 4.09); Tuesday, RHP Jordan Zimmermann (9-4, 3.95); Wednesday, RHP Michael Fulmer (8-2, 2.17). Because of the 19-inning game on Saturday, the Indians’ starting rotation for this series is in flux.