The Detroit Tigers begin their challenging month of June as the Chicago White Sox come to town to start a three-game weekend series.
The Southsiders have been atop the AL Central for most of the season, but are now 1.5 games out, tied with the Cleveland Indians behind the Kansas City Royals.
What can the fans expect to see when over the weekend in Detroit?
Consider the pitching match-ups. Tonight, Jordan Zimmermann will face Carlos Rodon; tomorrow, Mike Pelfrey will face Chris Sale; and Sunday, Justin Verlander will face Jose Quintana. Of the three White Sox pitchers, the only one that could really do any damage to the Detroit Tigers is Chris Sale. And, since he is facing Pelfrey, it is safe to say that the game will probably go the way of the White Sox (but a win would certainly be an unexpected gift to the fans).
In tonight’s matchup, Zimmermann will have his first outing since he was injured on May 22 in the game against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his three previous starts, he pitched in 19.2 innings and allowed 12 earned runs. He does have a win-loss record of 7-2. Rodon is coming into Comerica Park with a 4.24 ERA. In his last three games, he pitched 17.2 innings giving up 5 runs. He has a record of 2-4. If the Tigers can bring their A-game offense and Zimmermann is on, there is no reason why this game cannot be a win today.
Saturday afternoon’s game might be a bit more challenging. Sale has proven himself to be a formidable pitcher, but after “Binocular-Gate” the Tigers do not find him to be particularly intimidating. Victor Martinez is currently batting .471 against the powerful lefty. Jose Iglesias has a .364 average against him. Ian Kinsler, despite the tauntings he has given to Sale, has a .222 batting average, but an .808 OPS with 5 walks and 2 home runs in 27 at-bats. Sale is hittable and the Tigers know it.
Left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana does not have the impressive record that Sale has. He has losses in his last four games, giving him a 5-5 record. His WHIP of 1.03 is impressive and his ERA is 2.13. Victor Martinez has a .433 batting average against Quintana and a large majority of Tigers have averages over .300 against him including Mike Aviles and Miguel Cabrera. There could be some exciting offense on Sunday afternoon.
Of course, whether or not the Tigers get wins against their arch-rivals will depend on the offense. Zimmermann and Verlander have proven themselves lately on the mounds. The White Sox have a combined average of .254 against Verlander, with his toughest outs being against Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton.
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Most of the batters have not faced Zimmermann other than Jimmy Rollins who has a .229 against the former NL pitcher. Pelfrey has faced a significant number of Sox and his biggest competition includes Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, and Austin Jackson. One bonus for Pelfrey is that only one Sox has hit a home run off of him – Jimmy Rollins.
Keep your rally caps on and your fingers crossed; hopefully, the Tigers can get a few games closer to .500 in the next three days.