Series Preview – Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox
This marks the final series between these two teams in 2012. The Tigers are currently two games behind the White Sox, after being swept out of Los Angeles by the Angels. This is the last chance to put some distance between the two, one way or another. If Detroit can’t pick it up here, chances of winning the division are not looking good. You would think that with the Royals and Twins marking the final 13 games of the season, Detroit would be able to keep things competitive (or pull away). But both the Royals and Twins have been major pains for the Tigers all season, especially on the road. It’s not going to be easy getting to the top, so this series could mark the turning point for the season.
Monday – 9/10/12
Rick Porcello vs. Jose Quintana
Porcello has gotten touched up in recent starts, going 0-3 in his last three. But, his ERA in that time is only 3.78. So he’s not exactly giving up obscene amounts of runs. He’s just not getting the offense, and paying the price for it. It’s not like pitching against Chicago will do him any favors, either. His lifetime ERA against the White Sox is 4.95. Rick’s really going to need the bats to show up if he wants to stand any chance of winning.
Quintana hasn’t been much better lately, with a 12.66 ERA in his last three starts (and only 10 2/3 innings combined). That could be exactly boost the Tigers need to succeed. U.S. Cellular Field is known to be hitter-friendly. Porcello pitches to contact on the ground, which could keep the runs to a minimum. If Quintana doesn’t do the same, then the big guys in the Detroit lineup are going to get loose in a big hurry.
Tuesday – 9/11/12
Doug Fister vs. Jake Peavy
Fister’s numbers aren’t going to be nearly as good this season as when he came over from Seattle last season. But he’s had some injury trouble, and it’s shown. In spite of all that, he’s still 8-8 with a 3.54 ERA. What’s more, that pretty much his lifetime average against the Sox, as well (3.52). So it’s not hard for Doug to keep the opposing bats to a minimum of runs here. As long as he steers clear of Alex Rios, he should be just fine.
Peavy had something of a comeback season this year, and that’s great for him. What’s not great for him, though, is that Detroit has finally gotten enough looks at his stuff to handle it effectively. He’s lost both of his last starts against the Tigers, giving up ten earned runs in the process. They know what he has, and can obviously hit it. Which means that Peavy will have to be extra good at what he does if he wants to pitch his way to a win.
Wednesday – 9/12/12
Max Scherzer vs. Francisco Liriano
Max has had a stellar season, definitely better than anyone could have predicted (and more than I could have ever hoped for). He had an amazing outing in his last start, against the Angels, but didn’t have the greatest run support, and got the no-decision. But he has looked so good in the last two months that it’s hard to believe he was ever wild and so-so as a pitcher. I personally cannot wait to see just how far he can go in the next few seasons, and I hope he teaches the White Sox a lesson in this game. He just needs to make sure that they don’t hit three or four home runs in the game, and everything will be okay.
No matter what Mario and Rod or whoever works the White Sox channel tell me, I will never, ever, believe that Liriano is anything other than terrible. Trading for him seems like the dumbest thing Chicago could have done. I don’t care if he’s meant to be your number five starter or your backup starter. There are better choices. He has a 6.43 ERA over his last three starts, a losing record and 5.74 ERA against the Tigers, and the best bats in the lineup own him. There is nothing good that can come from pitching him at this point in a pennant race. The only thing the White Sox can hope for is that the home run yield of U.S. Cellular makes Scherzer’s day just as short.
Thursday – 9/13/12
Justin Verlander vs. Chris Sale
It’s been very disappointing to see Verlander doing so poorly early on in games lately. He’s given up a leadoff home run in both of his last two starts, and was tapped for six earned runs against the Angels last weekend. What happened to this guy in 2012, I’ll never understand. At least this isn’t like 2008, where he was just absolutely awful. Hopefully the rest of the season is much better, and with any luck he’ll turn in another performance against Chicago like he did a couple weeks ago.
What’s interesting is this is the very matchup that tied these teams atop the division in the last series. Sale got the worst of that deal, giving up two big home runs that lost him the game. He’s hoping this time out will be much better, and that he’ll be able to keep up his Cy Young campaign. If he wants to do that, he’ll need to avoid Brennan Boesch. It pains me to say that, because Boesch is just terrible. But Sale has only given up two home runs to left-handed batters all season, and both were to Brennan. It should be a simple matter to avoid a guy who will swing at literally anything, but you just never know what will happen.
Game 1: White Sox
Game 2: Tigers
Game 3: Tigers
Game 4: Tigers
Final: Tigers win series 3-1
Porcello isn’t great against the White Sox, and I think they’ll take advantage of that (although Quintana isn’t great either, so this really could go either way). Peavy doesn’t seem like he can fool the Detroit offense anymore, and Fister is finding his old form. Scherzer is much better than Liriano, and can easily outmaneuver him in Game 3. And, of course, I never bet against Verlander (although, lately, I’m being forced to rethink that position). Really, with these four pitchers starting in this series, there’s no reason Detroit can’t take all four, but prudence suggests that the White Sox are too good to be outdone in every single game.