Tigers' Galarraga sent down, for cause

Geez. Tough crowd:

    After his near-perfect game last month, Armando Galarraga seemed the least upset person in the Tigers’ locker room. He said he felt for Jim Joyce, the umpire who missed the ninth-inning call at first base.

    After the Tigers’ 11th-inning win over Baltimore Tuesday night, Galarraga — the night’s starting pitcher — seemed the most disappointed person in the locker room.

    Because he won’t need to start again for nearly two weeks because of the upcoming All-Star break, Galarraga had just been told that he’s being sent to Triple-A Toledo for one start, then will be recalled to start for the Tigers on July 20, almost two weeks from now.


    For his temporary demotion, Galarraga can blame the All-Star break and the lefty-heavy lineup of the Minnesota Twins.

    Galarraga was originally scheduled to pitch Sunday against Minnesota in the finale before the Tigers’ four-day All-Star break.

    But because the Twins have so many left-handed hitters, the Tigers flipped Andy Oliver and Galarraga in the rotation this week. That way, the rookie Oliver — the Tigers’ only left-handed starter — will face the Twins on Sunday.

For his temporary demotion, Galarraga can also blame HIS LOUSY PITCHING.

Since the Perfect Game That Wasn't, Galarraga's made five starts. The Tigers are 4-1 in those games, which is good. Galarraga's got a 6.00 ERA in those games, which is bad. Galarraga struck out seven hitters in those five games, which is (almost) impossible.

In 2008 and '09, Galarraga's first two seasons with the Tigers, his strikeout rate was decent but he walked too many hitters and gave up too many home runs. In 2008 he was lucky, and posted a 3.73 ERA. In 2009 he was unlucky and posted a 5.64 ERA. The ERAs were vastly different, but the underlying performances (and presumably, the underlying skills) were not.

In 2010, Galarraga's ERA has split the difference, suggesting that he's finally found his level -- except he's actually been a completely different pitcher (granted, we're talking about just 48 innings). Galarraga's throwing more fastballs, which has led to fewer walks and home runs (good) and many fewer strikeouts (very bad).

Galarraga remains a young, talented, and (we may assume) highly motivated pitcher. But I can't escape the notion that he'll never be much more than a No. 5 starter, because he simply doesn't have the stuff to strike out hitters and limit the walks and homers. He has to choose one or the other, and the result will always be less than brilliant (with, of course, the exception of a near-perfect game every so often).