Series Preview – Toronto Blue Jays vs. Detroit Tigers
Let’s all take a minute to realize how far the Baltimore Orioles have come in 2012. Now, the Tigers haven’t been the great and wonderful team that everyone predicted (yet), but it takes some real talent and skill to come back from a five-run deficit for a series win. This is bad news for Detroit, as well, because it means that a trip to the playoffs (whether as the A.L. Central Champions, or in a Wild Card spot) cannot be taken for granted. Too many teams have gotten a lot better in 2012 to take anything lightly. Toronto comes to town next though, and perhaps the Tigers can get back on track in this series.
Tuesday – 8/21/12
Ricky Romero vs. Max Scherzer
Romero has been struggling as of late, with no wins and an ERA over four in his last few starts. He has a season ERA of 5.53 that’s not coming down any time soon. Romero has also had next to no success against the Tigers in his career either. He’s 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA against Detroit, and there are a lot of Tigers that destroy him. He has a lot of failure against this team, and they’re just looking to get that bad weekend taste out of their mouths.
Max Scherzer has still been great. He’s tied with Verlander for the team lead in wins. He’s striking out nine or ten batters almost every game. He’s even getting enough run support to account for a few mistakes. Comerica Park is much kinder to his style of pitching, as well, meaning that he certainly stands an excellent chance of walking away with yet another win. He’s had a lot of success against the Blue Jays, going 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA over his career. Again, due to Comerica Park, that number stands to shrink even more. Having such a successful pitcher on the mound against the team he’s successful against certainly bodes well.
Wednesday – 8/22/12
Aaron Laffey vs. Anibal Sanchez
Laffey, too, has been struggling lately. He’s 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA over his last three starts. He’s hoping to reverse that trend in this game, but with a lifetime 3.58 ERA against the Tigers, he’ll need some serious help from the offense to make it happen. The good news for him is that the power hitters in the Detroit lineup haven’t had any real success against him, meaning that if he can make his way around the heart of the order, he should actually find some semblance of success.
Sanchez has been pretty awful since coming over from the Marlins, and there’s no way to sugar coat that. My question is this: If it’s genuinely accepted that there is a learning curve when a pitcher switches leagues, why would you take a pitcher who’s only ever pitched in the National League and plop him in the middle of an American League pennant race two-thirds of the way through the season? He won’t get enough starts to truly get over the hump, and in the meantime his starts are being pushed back to account for the wildness that he’s shown in the four so far with Detroit. Maybe this fifth one will be the success … but it’s unlikely. He’s already faced Toronto twice this year, lost both games, and has a 10.61 ERA to go with it.
Thursday – 8/23/12
J.A. Happ vs. Justin Verlander
Happ hasn’t had too many starts this season, and his ERA is certainly elevated (at 5.09) for the starts he has had. Unfortunately, he can’t give up five earned runs in this game. If he does, that’ll be the end of things for the Blue Jays. He’s also faced many of the former National League opponents that now dot this Tigers team, and it’s not pretty. Expect Prince Fielder to go off for another home run and a few RBIs.
Meanwhile, there’s Verlander. He wasn’t exactly crisp in his last start. While he did manage to get a no decision instead of the loss, he should have been more on his game, and come away with a win. Verlander has been suffering from a major lack of run support this season, though, which is something that he hasn’t had happen in four years. At least this time around he’s pitching, instead of throwing, and that’s why he’s kept games with little support close enough to at least get no decisions, if not wins. Toronto has not been his forte, though, with a career 2-2 record and 5.18 ERA. With numbers like that, Happ may stand a chance of getting the win.
Game 1: Tigers
Game 2: Blue Jays
Game 3: Tigers
Final: Tigers win the series 2-1
This weekend, Detroit caught a break. Chicago was swept by Kansas City, and so the Tigers are still only a game and a half behind the White Sox. I think it’s that point in the season where everyone realizes – the staff, players, fans, everyone – that it’s time to stop fucking around, and start making the real final push for the top of the division and the postseason. It’s now or never, so make it happen.