Game 18 Preview: Tigers at Angels

USA TODAY Sports

Doug Fister is tasked with being the Tigers' stopper today as they look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels.

Detroit Tigers (9-8) at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (6-10)

Time/Place: 3:35 p.m., Angels Stadium of Anaheim

SB Nation blog: Halos Heaven

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Doug Fister (3-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (1-0, 4.00 ERA)

Wilson hasn't been particularly sharp this season, walking 11 batters in his first 18 innings of work. He picked up his only win of the young season against the Houston Astros in his last outing, but walked four hitters and only threw 58% of his pitches for strikes. He only allowed one run, but was bailed out by some ill-timed swings and a horribly executed squeeze play. Seriously, it was bad.

Astros_squeezefail_4-14-13_medium

The Astros stranded a Tigers-esque seven runners in Wilson's six innings.

The command issues are nothing new for Wilson, who has walked nearly four batters per nine innings throughout his career. He throws a mix of fastballs -- including a four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter -- about two-thirds of the time. He will sit in the low 90s with these pitches, but can touch 93-94 miles per hour at times. Wilson also has a slider, curveball, and changeup that he will throw fairly regularly, but more often when ahead in the count. The changeup is used primarily against right-handed hitters and has progressively gotten better throuhout his career.

Fister was excellent (again) in his last start, allowing two runs in seven innings against the Seattle Mariners. This doesn't tell the whole story, though. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and pounded the strike zone all evening long, only walking one hitter. Other than a rough fourth inning, he was incredibly efficient, never throwing more than 14 pitches in any of his other six innings. His strikeout rate has dipped somewhat in 2013, but his groundball rate of 55.6% is almost 5% higher than last season. Given yesterday's result from Rick Porcello, however, this may not be a good thing if these trends continue.

Outlook

After the offense's disappearance following Wednesday's 14-inning marathon, tomorrow' off day can't come soon enough for the Tigers. Before that, they have to deal with Wilson, who has mixed results against the Tigers throughout his career. Overall, he is 1-2 with a 5.04 in the regular season against Detroit, but dominated them at Angels Stadium last season -- a series that feels very similar to this one, come to think of it. Win or lose, it would be nice to see the offense wake up from the doldrums before the Tigers return home for an important intra-divisional series next week against the Kansas City Royals.

Prediction

Fister gets the Tigers back on track with a much-needed win.

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