Game 86 Preview: Royals at Tigers

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Max Scherzer #37 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on June 23, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Kansas City Royals (37-46) at Detroit Tigers (43-42)

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

SB Nation Blog: Royals Review

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

Pitching Matchup: Everett Teaford (1-1, 4.70 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (7-5, 4.98 ERA)

For those unfamiliar, Teaford is a 28 year old lefthander with some serious reverse splits. Righties are hitting .224/.321/.388 off him this season while lefties are humming along at a .273/.385/.545 clip. As you might expect with splits like this, Teaford has a good changeup. He is getting hitters to whiff on that particular pitch 13% of the time this season. He also has a 13.5% whiff rate on his slider, which he throws nearly 25% of the time.

Teaford has gotten a boat load of run support so far in 2012. In his three starts, the Royals offense has combined for 23 runs and the team, unsurprisingly, is 3-0 in those games. Teaford made two appearances out of the bullpen in April, one of which accounted for his only loss on the season. I think this offensive explosion has more to do with the good fortune of the starters that Teaford has faced so far -- the names Carl Pavano, Matt Moore, and Ricky Romero aren't exactly striking fear into anyone's hearts in 2012. Expect that number to come back to earth today against Mr. Scherzer.

Scherzer missed his last start because of a tight hamstring, but said earlier this week that he could have made it if needed.

"If push came to shove, I could’ve pitched today if we really needed it," Scherzer said. "But at the same time, you’ve gotta be smart about these things."

I like that the Tigers were cautious with Scherzer here, especially after losing Doug Fister to the disabled list twice already this year. With how Scherzer has pitched recently, that would be a huge loss. He has a 3.95 ERA after struggling in April and looks poised to have a huge second half. More importantly, he seems to have reeled in his home run issues. He has only allowed one homer in his last four starts, snapping a streak of eight starts in which he had allowed at least one home run.

Outlook

Once again, the Chicago White Sox have decided to become the hottest team in baseball, winning 5 straight and 9 of their last 11 games. If the Tigers lose today, there's a good chance that they will be 5.5 games back in the standings. I'm not as worried about this fact as I am about winning today's game to give the team some good momentum heading into the break. Specifically, I'd like to see a good effort out of Scherzer today after missing his last start. 10+ days is a long time to think about what went wrong in your last game.

Prediction

The Tigers take a 5 game winning streak into the All-Star Break.

Gameday Reading:

Tigers Master Chen - Royals Review
"For the sixth time this season, Bruce Chen gave up six runs in a start and the Royals fell to Detroit 8-7. The final margin, thanks to a three run ninth, made the game closer than it was for the bulk of the afternoon."

The Detroit Tigers Have Won More Baseball Games Than They Have Lost - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
"You put a large red INCOMPLETE over the season up to this point. You have a large shotgun, and you take that season and you hang it on a wooden board. You take 100 steps back. You load your shotgun. You aim. You fire."

Detroit Tigers reportedly asked Chicago Cubs about second baseman Darwin Barney - MLive, James Schmehl
GROAN

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