Tigers lineup dilemma: who bats against Gavin Floyd?

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Tigers manager Jim Leyland has a dilemma Wednesday as he tries to get his team on track against the White Sox:

What lineup does he use against right-hander Gavin Floyd?

“The people who love the lineup [guessing] will have a ball because I have a real dilemma,” Leyland said Tuesday.

His problem surround how to use infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn and outfielder Brennan Boesch.

Raburn is still “sluggish”, Leyland said, after hurting his a right quad within days of returning Sept. 1 from a month-long right thumb injury.

Boesch has the power potential Leyland wants–but not against Floyd.

“I’ve watched Raburn and he’s sluggish,” Leyland said. “I think the leg is still bothering him.”

Raburn also committed an error Monday night when he dropped a fly to left – center field after calling off Austin Jackson. It was one of three Tigers errors, but didn’t cost the team.

Raburn, hitting only .171 in 66 games in this injury-filled season, was out of the lineup Tuesday against right-hander Jake Peavy. But he would have played against Sox lefty Francisco LIriano, who was originally scheduled Wednesday.

Floyd, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 26, improved enough from a right elbow flexor strain to return against the Tigers, pushing Liriano back to the weekend series in Minnesota against the Twins.

Raburn has hit Floyd in the past [12-37, .324, with three RBI], “but I won’t play him even though he’s hit Floyd because I think he’s still sore,” Leyland said.

“I might DH him because he hits in this park [Raburn’s average in U.S. Cellular Field is .309 with eight homers and 30 RBI in 47 games].”

Lefty Boesch also has hit well at Sox Park (.286, four home runs, seven RBI in 20 games)–but not against Floyd.

“You’d like to play Boesch in this park, and he will play [Thursday] against Chris Sale]–but he’s 0-for-17 with six strikeouts against Floyd,” Leyland said.

“If you don’t play him and don’t play Raburn, you have to figure out what to do. I’ll probably play Boesch because in this park, he might hit a homer–but it’s a mindboggling thing when you look at the numbers.”

The lineup is a worry because the offense has been the Tigers’ worry.

During a 1-6 stretch entering Tuesday’s game, the Tigers had scored only 17 runs, including hitting only .185 with six runs scored during a four-game road losing streak.

While the pitching staff has posted a 2.76 ERA in the last 24 games, the offense has scored only 3.7 runs per game.

The Tigers are 12-12 in those games.

“It could be frustrating [for the pitchers],” Leyland said. “But it doesn’t change what the pitcher has to do. He should feel `I want to shut this [opposing] team down’, whether he has runs [support] or not.”


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