Game 124 Preview: Blue Jays at Tigers

August 7, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ (48) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Toronto Blue Jays (56-67) at Detroit Tigers (66-57)

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

SB Nation Blog: Bluebird Banter

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

Pitching Matchup: LHP J.A. Happ (9-10, 4.88 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.53 ERA)

Happ was acquired by the Blue Jays from the Houston Astros on July 20th for Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, and a haul of minor leaguers. Bluebird Banter posted an in-depth look at Happ last week, but here's a quick excerpt:

Happ throws a four-seam fastball at approximately 90 miles per hour with plenty of "rise", an offering he goes to approximately 65% of the time. His main offspeed weapon, thrown 14% of the time, has been a slider, which comes in around 83.5 mph and doesn't have spectacular movement, which is probably why some call it a cutter, even though it's very slow for a cutter. He also mixes in a changeup (12.5%) and a curveball (8%). Interestingly, pitch values indicate that the fastball has been by far Happ's best pitch over the years. It has been the only pitch he's commanded well enough to throw reliable strikes with it, and despite his dependence on it, hitters have not made a lot of contact on it.

Since joining the Jays' rotation, Happ is 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA in three starts. He allowed just two hits in six innings against the Texas Rangers in his last start, striking out eight batters. Other than an elevated home run rate, Happ has some solid peripherals.

I don't think anyone knows what was going on with Verlander in his last start, but I'm pretty sure nobody wants to see it again. JV was uncharacteristically wild, walking four batters in just six innings against the Baltimore Orioles. On that note, this goes to show you exactly how spoiled we are with Verlander. If anyone else on this pitching staff -- other than Fister, maybe -- had a line of 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 6 K, 4 BB in a Tigers win, we would be happy. When it's Verlander, we worry. Success can be fickle sometimes.

Outlook

The Tigers need to win this game. This is not in a "we can't let Chicago pull away" sense, but rather a "Justin Verlander is on the mound at home facing a lefty with a massive home run rate pitching for a last place team" sense. It's not the end of the world if they lose, but it definitely won't leave a good taste in anyone's mouth leading up to a Weaver-less series with the Los Angeles Angels.

Prediction

Eight spectacular innings from Verlander and a Tigers sweep.

Gameday Reading:

Oh Viz! Tigers 3, Blue Jays 2 - Bluebird Banter
"On the bright side, the Jays outhit the Tigers 7 to 5 and Aaron Laffey pitched well but it didn't matter as the Tigers scored one more run than the Jays did."

Anibal Sanchez Bounces Back, Offense Does Just Enough in Win - Walkoff Woodward, Erin Saelzler
"You’re not going to win many games when you make three errors while only scoring three runs, but I’ll certainly take it."

So you want to know about J.A. Happ? - Bluebird Banter
A nice profile of Happ that I'm going to rip off for today's preview.

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