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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Leyland tells Penny to pick up the pace

To say that Brad Penny is "deliberate" in his pace on the mound would be an understatement.

Perhaps the slowest worker among all the Tigers' pitchers, his exaggeratedly slow pace has merely been more noticeable with the addition of Doug "Get Ball, Throw Ball" Fister to the rotation.

It's surely something that every fan has noticed. And it's something that his manager has now spoken to him about.

"I talked to him a little bit in Cleveland about maybe picking up the pace a little bit, just to see if it helps. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be my fault," the manager said before Penny's start against the Twins Friday, noting that he doesn't know if the suggestion will be successful.
"I think sometimes, the longer you take before you throw it again, sometimes you outthink yourself. Get it back, look in for the sign, and throw it. Now, is it going to be that rapid (of) a pace? I can’t swear to that. But hopefully it’ll be a little quicker than it’s been.

"I don’t know that it’s going to help. We need him to pitch good tonight, whether he takes all day to do it. If he pitches good, that’s fine with me."

For Penny, who's in contention for the Tigers' fourth spot in the playoff rotation, a solid outing is a necessity in more ways than one. He's lost four of his last six decisions, dating back to July 23, and has a 6.85 ERA over that stretch.

In fact, according to, he has the fifth-worst ERA in the majors (6.49) since the All-Star break.

It's also a necessity for the playoff momentum of the Tigers (81-62), who have won six straight to pare their magic number down to just 12 with 19 games to go.

The theory, of course, is that a starter who works fast keeps the defense on its toes behind him.

"That’s a double-edged sword. Because if you tell somebody to throw it before they’re ready, and it’s not successful, then ..." Leyland trailed off. "I’ve always said it’s like a good or bad movie: If you go to a bad movie, and it’s slow, you leave. If you go to a good movie, and it’s long, you stay."

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