Game 42 Preview: Tigers at Rangers

Rick Yeatts

The eyes of the MLB turn to Arlington as the Tigers and Rangers are featured on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball."

Detroit Tigers (23-18) at Texas Rangers (28-15)

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

SB Nation blog: Lone Star Ball

Media: ESPN, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Doug Fister (5-1, 3.06 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (3-2, 2.93)

Ever the groundball pitcher, Doug Fister is forcing batters to put the ball on the ground at a higher rate than ever in his career. Coupled with a career-low rate of home runs allowed per fly ball, the his ERA has been a crisp 3.06. With a strikeout rate that is down a skosh and a walk rate that is down notably, Fister's indicator stats show that he may actually be pitching better than that. You worry, of course, that home runs could catch up with his a bit -- the league rate has remained steady from 2012 to 2013 while Fister's has halved. That's been a trend through much of the rotation -- Rick Porcello excluded, possibly indicating it's more a result of the ballparks Fister has been.

For the Rangers, Holland is coming off of his second-worst appearance of the season: four runs allowed to Oakland in less than six innings. His team overcame the performance to win anyway. Otherwise he's been stellar to start the season, allowing three runs or fewer in six of seven starts.

Two things have appeared to help Holland: He's issuing fewer walks than ever and limiting home runs. The control seems sustainable, but like with Fister one wonders whether the home run bug will begin to bite him a bit more over the course of a season. Entering the game opposing batters have homered just twice -- a rate of 3.7 percent of fly balls. He's coming off a 15.2 percent rate last year and 12.4 percent for his career. Can the Tigers get to him? That remains to be seen.

Outlook

The Tigers need a win Sunday to come away from Arlington with a split. They need a good pitching performance to come away with their pride. Three of the past four games -- twice against Texas, once against Houston -- Detroit pitchers have given up seven runs or more. With Fister on the mound, you have to like the Tigers' chances of breaking the recent trend. Then again we'd also have said that about Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez and neither of them made it out of the third. So, well, yes.

I borrowed Jon Erikkila's Crafty Yooper Ball and asked how the game would go.

"Outlook uncertain."

Well, that's helpful.

Prediction

A game will be played. ESPN will televise it. John Kruk will say Kruk-y things. A good time will be had by some.

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