Game 73 Preview: Tigers at Rangers

Jun 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Justin Grimm (51) throws a pitch during the fifth inning of the game against the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (35-37) at Texas Rangers (45-28)

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

SB Nation Blog: Lone Star Ball

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

Pitching Matchup: Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95 ERA) vs. Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50 ERA)

Grimm made his Major League debut on June 16th against the Houston Astros, allowing 3 runs in 6 innings, and he hasn't pitched since. He had a 8-3 record with a 1.87 ERA at AA Frisco before being called up when Neftali Feliz was placed on the disabled list. He was selected by the Rangers in the 5th round in the 2010 draft and is just 23 years old.

Grimm has been labeled a control pitcher by some, but his stuff is better than that category gives him credit for. In his start against the Astros, he primarily threw a fastball that sat at 92-93 mph and a power curveball that gave the Astros fits. He struck out 7 batters -- most of them on that curveball -- while walking none. It took Grimm just 88 pitches to get through his 6 innings of work.

After slogging through a couple of road interleague starts, Porcello was brilliant against the St. Louis Cardinals. While Jake Westbrook threw a complete game to get the win, I thought Porcello actually looked more dominant on the mound at times. His sinker had good late movement and he was extremely efficient, needing just 86 pitches to get through 7 innings. Porcello's last start against the Rangers wasn't pretty, but also very unlucky. He allowed 9 ground balls to just 4 fly balls, yet nearly everything seemed to get through the infield. If Porcello can keep the ball down and out of the Texas summer jet stream, I think he will be fine.

Outlook

Once again, the Tigers are facing a young pitcher with decent stuff who will probably shut them down for 6-7 innings. As frustrating as it is to watch, tonight's matchup might be more favorable than usual for Detroit. Grimm didn't stray much from the strike zone against the Astros, even when ahead in the count. While we will definitely see a couple of embarrassingly horrible swings on that curveball -- I'm looking at you, Delmon Young -- I think that the Tigers can get to Grimm if he doesn't adjust. Going after the first pitch -- still looking at you, Delmon -- might not be a bad idea tonight.

Prediction

Grimm outduels Porcello, but the Tigers take advantage of a depleted Texas bullpen to get back in the game late.

Gameday Reading:

Justin Grimm gives quality Father's Day gift - ESPN Dallas, Richard Durrett
"The only other pitchers since 2000 to have at least seven strikeouts and no walks in his major league debut was Washington’s Stephen Strasburg and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto."

How Many Rangers Should Be In The All-Star Game? - SB Nation Dallas, Robbie Griffin
"With the Texas Rangers tied for the most wins in the league, and holding by far the largest run differential in baseball, it stands to reason they are made up of multiple All Stars."

Rangers’ Josh Hamilton struggling since return from virus: ‘He’s in a valley now’ - Dallas Morning News, Gerry Fraley
Hamilton missed a few games with an intestinal virus. Since returning last week, he is hitting just .176.

Know Thy Enemy: 2012 Texas Rangers - DesigNate Robertson
Rogo wrote this before the first series against Texas, but it's still relevant to our concerns now.

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