Boston Red Sox
Monday: Justin Verlander vs Drew Pomeranz
Tuesday: Mike Pelfrey vs Steven Wright
Wednesday: Michael Fulmer vs Eduardo Rodriguez
As good as Boston’s offense is, the Tigers immediately have a chance to win the series thanks to the fact that Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer are pitching in two of the three games.
Verlander is back to his ace-like ways with a 1.63 ERA and a .165 batting average against over his last four starts. The longtime Tiger also owns a 3.16 career ERA versus the Red Sox.
Fulmer has never faced Boston, but he’s done extremely well when facing opposition for the first time. The Blue Jays, Yankees, Athletics and Angels were all shut out when in their first look at Fulmer.
The rookie’s last outing against Chicago was a rare struggle, but despite allowing four earned runs in five innings, his ERA is still only 2.41 on the season. What’s more, (including the start against the White Sox) Fulmer’s ERA since May 21 is still a minuscule 1.28. He’ll look to continue that success against Boston.
The Tigers could do well in Tuesday’s contest as well. Despite allowing batters to hit .316 with a .409 on-base percentage, Mike Pelfrey has actually been solid in his last four starts. The former Met has pitched to a 3.72 ERA. What’s more, he actually has pitched extremely well in his career vs Boston. Pelfrey owns a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings against the American League East club. He’s held Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia to a combined 14 hits in a combined 70 at-bats.
If the Tigers can score some runs off knuckleballer Steven Wright, the team could be in good shape.
Wright has pitched at an All-Star level this season with a league-leading 2.67 ERA and three complete games in 19 starts. The pitcher has also allowed a mere 0.5 home runs per nine innings. So far, Wright owns a 12-5 record.
Despite the strong numbers, successful knuckleballers are often susceptible to the odd poor start if a knuckleball or two doesn’t move much. The pitch then becomes extremely easy for a batter to put a charge into.
So far this year, Wright has had a number of poor starts. He was tagged for nine hits, five runs and a pair of walks in 4.1 innings against Houston. In two starts against the Rangers this season, the right-hander has allowed 16 hits and 14 runs. Anaheim was also able to get to Wright, notching eight hits and four runs against him in early July.
Wright hasn’t exactly pitched at an All-Star level since the beginning of the month. In four July starts, the pitcher owns a 4.68 ERA in just 25 innings pitched. He’s also hit three batters over the same span. All told, his ERA on the season has risen from 2.18 to 2.67 since the calendar turned to the year’s seventh month.