The Royals turn to Brian Bannister (5-6, 3.87 ERA) as they try to claim a second straight series victory on the road. After an impressive June, Bannister's taken a step back in July, posting a 5.54 ERA in two starts. After allowing just four homers in his first twelve starts, Banny's surrendered three long balls in his last two outings.
The Tigers send Nate Robertson (6-6, 4.53 ERA) to the mound, making his 400th career start as a Tiger and his 100th against the Royals. OK, its only his ninth career start against the Royals, yet it seems like the Wichita State attendee has been around forever.
As for the lineup, many are predicting a variation of the "Sunday Scrubs" attack from Bell, with a Jason LaRue start a dead certainty according to an angry "HarveyKen". Still, Bell's hard to predict -- either a lack of systematic thinking or genuine intellectual flexibility I suppose-- and just when you think you've got him figured out, he surprises you. Nevertheless, the burying of Buck is becoming a daily issue, as we're now on month two of Buck and LaRue essentially splitting time equally. In "HarveyKen"'s diary I mentioned the superficial playing time numbers:
LaRue: 120 PAs, 40 Games, 295 Innings
Phillips: 11 PAs, 5 Games, 24 Innings
Buck leads the team in slugging at .541 if you don't take Reggie Sanders' handful of PAs into account, and no one else amongst the regulars is really even close. Yet Buck has only appeared as a pinch-hitter twice, and only DHed... well, he's never DHed. When someone's behind Joe Torre in tactical matters, you know its gotten bad: Bell should look at Torre's handling of Posada the last few years, especially his willingness to frequently give him half-games off, PHing him late in close games while also giving him regular turns at DH. (2007 numbers for Posada: 1 game at first, 3 games as DH, 11 games as a PH)
The bottom line is that this lineup needs more, not less, John Buck.
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