Friday, October 18, 2013
Avila's injury could hurt Tigers chances
By AJ Mass
After getting bowled over by David Ross during a play at the plate, catcher Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers, though he held on to the ball, suffered a sprained left knee on the play. He was later replaced by Brayan Pena and is considered day-to-day.
After the game, Avila seemed somewhat optimistic about his chances at returning to the series for Game 6. "I should be fine," he said. "I tried to stay out there, but I just didn't have any mobility back there. It was hurting pretty good, so we decided to get me out and see how it feels in a couple days."
If Pena were to have start instead of Avila in Game 6, the impact to the Tigers pitching staff might well make enough of a difference to influence the outcome of the series. This season, with Pena behind the plate, Detroit pitching has a higher ERA (3.76), worse batting average against (.261) and a more frequent AB/HR rate (one every 39.84 AB) than it has when Avila is calling the pitches (3.38 ERA, .232 BAA, 45.19 AB/HR).
In particular, Game 6 starter Max Scherzer's splits show that there has been a difference in his performance when Pena is in the lineup. In 18 games with Avila this season, Scherzer has posted a 2.49 ERA and a .173 BAA. In 15 games with Pena, those numbers rise to 3.41 and .228. That's not an insignificant difference if it translates into that one extra run which sends the Boston Red Sox to the World Series.
Jim CapleAvila's collision a signal for change
"Avila is wrong. Catchers should not have to deal with [collisions]. Young athletes earning millions of dollars to the cheers of millions of fans are not in a good position to decide what is best when it comes to their long-term health. Leagues must protect them, because as Avila said, they cannot protect themselves."