Game 16 Preview: Rangers at Tigers

Apr 6, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis (48) pitches against the Chicago White Sox during opening day at Rangers Ballpark. during a workout at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Texas Rangers (12-3) at Detroit Tigers (10-5)

Time/Place: 1:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Lone Star Ball

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

The game might also possibly be on TBS (according to ESPN, who can't always be trusted when it comes to these things).

Pitching Matchup: Colby Lewis (2-0, 1.83 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.90 ERA)

Don't let Lewis' run support numbers fool you: other than his last start, the Rangers offense hasn't been helping him out much this season. They scored a combined 5 runs in his first two starts, yet he was still able to come away 1-0 because he only gave up 2 earned runs in 12 2/3 combined innings. Then, their offense decided to explode in his last start against the Red Sox, putting up 18 runs in what might be the beginning of the end of the Bobby Valentine experiment in Boston.

At a 93.8% LOB rate, Lewis is another Rangers starter that is stranding runners at an unsustainable rate so far this year. He is giving up a decent amount of hits (20 in 19 2/3 innings), but is limiting the damage by not walking anyone; he has only issued one free pass this season. Lewis is 2-2 with a 7.46 ERA in 5 career starts against the Tigers. Of course, I said the same thing about Matt Harrison the other day. Look how that turned out.

Speaking of unsustainable strand rates, Smyly is humming along at a ridiculous 95.9% clip. This will not last, but we can at least hope it does for today. Like Adam Wilk*, this will be the first time that Smyly has faced an offense of this caliber. He needs to continue to ride his fastball in on the hands of hitters on both sides of the plate to be successful.

*Depending on your opinion of this Texas lineup, Rick Porcello might be included in this category too. They're that good.

Ridiculous Fact of the Day

Last night's 3-2 Tigers win was the first road loss of the season for the Rangers.

Outlook

Despite giving up a 10-spot in each of the first two games of this series, the Tigers are in line to pick up a series split today. The bullpen is pretty taxed and there is a good chance that Thad Weber makes his debut today, even if Smyly pitches deep into the game. If the Tigers are going to salvage a split, the bats need to show up today.

Prediction

Josh Hamilton throws his bat into the stands after a big swing again today.

Gameday Reading:

Rangers Continue To Roll, Beating Tigers 10-4 - SB Nation Dallas, Robbie Griffin
Game 1 recap. That WPA chart is ugly.

Even In Detroit Loss, Texas Still Looks Strong - SB Nation Dallas, Robbie Griffin
Game 2 recap. Much better this time.

Detroit Tigers' Andy Dirks unavailable Saturday, should be 'full-go' by Tuesday - MLive, James Schmehl
Good thing we don't need defense when we play against the Rangers. /sarcasm

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