The Red Wings have won three of their last five games, and five of their last eight. They have been getting great starting pitching, and some of the younger players on the team are beginning to step up. The Wings have battled the weather during the first part of the season, and will have an "Opening Day II" on Saturday, April 21. The bullpen is also starting to come into form, and the team has seemed to fill the holes left by the promotions of Alexi Casilla, Josh Rabe, and Glen Perkins. The season is finally getting into full swing, and fans should be able to count on the Wings playing nearly everyday now. The Wings play five games in a row beginning on Saturday, when they open up a three-game set against Syracuse.
While he may never be able to completely fill the shoes of Alexi Casilla, infielder Matt Tolbert is doing his best Casilla imitation since Casilla's promotion to Minnesota. Tolbert is hitting the ball to all fields, is playing steady defense, and really looks like he belongs in Triple-A. Tolbert is batting .500 over his last five games, and even hit his first International League home run. Garrett Jones also appears to be hitting his stride, hitting .348 over his last five games. Jones has cut down on his strikeouts this season, but he hasn't put up many power numbers yet. He has yet to hit a home run, but that could be because of the weather. Thomas Watkins has also been productive, scoring five times during the last five Wings games.
Starter Scott Baker has been great for the Wings lately, and is fresh off an eight inning, two-hit effort against Pawtucket. In that game, Baker struck out eight Red Sox, while allowing no earned runs. Fellow starter Kevin Slowey has been dominant, and he still has yet to allow a walk in his two starts. In his last time out, he pitched 5.2 scoreless innings, striking out nine. He has created some whispers that he is ready to join the Minnesota Twins starting rotation, though he still need some seasoning. Reliever Mike Venafro has been solid in his last three appearances, as he has pitched scoreless ball en-route to picking up his first save of the season. Venafro is beginning to look like the reliever that nearly made the Twins Opening Day roster out of Spring Training.
Matthew LeCroy was supposed to be a positive, veteran bat in this lineup, though he has struggled with the stick to open the season. LeCroy is batting only .100 through his last five games, and is batting only .147 with no home runs this season. Leadoff man Denard Span has also gotten off to a rough start to his Triple-A career, and has not been the type of table-setter he was slated to be coming out of Spring Training. He did have a triple in his last game, so that could be the start of something special. Third baseman Matthew Moses has looked overmatched in his first stint with the Red Wings, and some fans are hoping he gets demoted back to New Britain. Moses is a great talent, and his bat should heat up as the weather starts getting better. The poor stats, combined with the poor weather, could weigh on the young sluggers confidence, but he should be able to shake his early troubles.
What We Know
This is a Red Wings team that is going to ride it's starting pitching, and top prospect Matt Garza has struggled a bit early on. He has fought his way out of jams this season, and it is only a matter of time before he is back to being a lights out pitcher. The young kids in the lineup should start to hit, and Span is a guy who needs to start leading by example. He is still slated as the Twins centerfielder of the future, though his development has not been what the Twins were hoping for thus far. Guys like Moses, Span, and LeCroy are vital to the Red Wings success, and if this team is going to score runs, they need to step up. The Wings bullpen is starting to take shape, and pitchers like Venafro, Tristan Crawford, Carmen Cali, and Jason Miller are going to be keys to bridging the gap to closer Bobby Korecky.