Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The bullpen has certainly been a pleasant surprise, but realistically, the bullpen has only had to come into four close games, and held the lead in three of them. The bigger surprise to me has been the offensive contributions of Josh Anderson and Ramon Santiago. We expected both to be solid defensively, and we knew Anderson had some speed on the basepaths that would be beneficial. But in a combined 42 at-bats (a small sample size, I will grant you), the duo has hit .333 combined with five extra base hits and 15 RBI. It's obviously unrealistic to expect that sort of offensive production to continue, but their early production has helped give the Tigers a boost from the bottom of the order, and in case like Sunday, the two were largely responsible for the runs the team scored. Everyone has contributed, but their unforeseen additions have turned a potential hole in the order into a source of production.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Sticking at the Major League level, the biggest surprise has simply been the starting rotation. Though they have had some issues at times, Galarraga, Jackson, Verlander, and Porcello have largely been very good through the first two weeks. Even with some rough innings mixed in, there have been signs of life from Zach Miner as well. With Jeremy Bonderman seemingly making progress in Lakeland, its nice to know that people are holding down the fort in his absence. If the rotation can maintain this type of performance over the long haul, the Tigers will undoubtedly be players throughout the 2009 season. The talent is there, and we've seen more than a few glimpses so far this season, let's just hope it continues.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think it's been the pitching. The staff ERA through Sunday's game is 4.05, and the bullpen has been stellar so far. Fernando Rodney is 3-for-3 in save situations, and hasn't allowed a run so far this year. Armando Galarraga has been outstanding, and Edwin Jackson has also turned in a pair of solid starts. Justin Verlander has shown signs of putting it together despite his 7.88 ERA, and Rick Porcello got his first win the majors on Sunday. Right now, I'm encouraged by what the pitching staff has done, and if the Tigers are going to contend, they will play a large role for the Tigers.
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