DETROIT -- Jeremy Bonderman's pitching remains a work in progress. Saturday's outing was a good bit of progress, as far as the Tigers are concerned.
It isn't simply about the numbers, though a lone earned run over six innings marked Bonderman's statistically strongest outing this season. It was about a mix of pitch command and arm strength that seems to be getting better for him.
Bonderman averaged just over 91 mph on his fastball, according to data from MLB.com's Gameday application. That's two miles per hour higher than what he averaged his previous outing, according to brooksbaseball.net, and higher than any of his other outings this season. His top fastball came in at 94, a mark he hadn't reached since shoulder surgery, and likely hadn't seen since 2007.
Just as important, Bonderman was also able to command with good velocity. He fourth and final strikeouts of the day was a 93-mph fastball at the knees for a called third strike on Bobby Abreu. Almost as encouraging was an increasing use of the splitter as his offspeed, which induced some swings and misses.
"I'm very pleased with him," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's getting better. He's adjusting to the art of pitching more than he's ever had to -- and doing a pretty good job. I'm very pleased with that. We just have to continue to build on that."
Bonderman has approached the art of pitching from the standpoint of having to get used to pitching without his old velocity. If he can get that fastball back, he said, it would be a bonus.