Game 48 Preview
Time/Place: 1:08 PM EST, Comerica Park
Twins: Mike Pelfrey (6.69 ERA, 4.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9)
Tigers: Max Scherzer (3.61 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9)
Max Scherzer takes the hill on Sunday afternoon assuming the role of "stopper" to nip any kind of losing streak in the bud after the Tigers' offense was unable to solve the mysteries of PJ Walters once again on Saturday. The Twins 10-game losing streak came to an end and it will be Scherzer who is looking to help them start a new one.
Scherzer's last outing was a memorable one as he rebounded from allowing a first inning run to the surging Tribe and then went about retiring 22 consecutive batters. Scherzer was inducing plenty of weak fly ball contact when he wasn't whiffing seven hitters. It was an effort that eased the concerns of Tigers fans after watching Tigers pitching get manhandled the prior weekend in Texas.
Pelfrey has not pitched beyond the sixth inning in any of his 9 starts this year while posting two Quality Starts. During the opening week of the season Pelfrey did manage to hold the Tigers down when he allowed only 7 baserunners in 5.1 innings. Both runs the Tigers scored that off him were unearned.
In grand Twins tradition, Pelfrey is another low-K guy though he does throw slightly harder than some of his rotation mates. Pelfrey's heater, which he throws 70% of the time per Fangraphs, comes in with an average velocity of 91.6 mph. He mixes in a splitter, slider, curve combo. Pelfrey is hard to pin down this year in terms of batted ball tendencies. He's allowing a roughly equal percentage of ground balls and fly balls. During his time with the New York Mets he did lean toward being a ground ball pitcher for the most part.
It looks like another day where "lineup hawks" will have their pre-game fun ruminating over the presence of Alex Avila, Ramon Santiago, and Don Kelly. The much feared "Sunday lineup" that many wonder why it's practically a tradition is in play today. Odds are things will be fine. Kelly has contributed at times despite the low batting average. Santiago and Avila? Well...Avila is 2-5 with a walk against Pelfrey! (Small sample be damned! Let's be positive.)
Also if Scherzer is flashing the form he did in Cleveland there is a fairly solid chance he can mow through the Twins and Jim Leyland's "Sunday Lineup" will only need a 4 or 5 runs to have a good chance of success today. It should be noted that Justin Morneau has three career homers versus Scherzer and Joe Mauer does what Joe Mauer does against lots of guys...he has had success against Scherzer to the tune of .348/.375/.478 in 24 plate appearances.
If Scherzer keeps the ball in the park and doesn't allow any "instant runs" there is a good chance he will be able to keep the Twins lesser hitters from stringing together longer rallies built on singles and walks. The odds look good for another high-K Scherzer performance.
The Tigers offense won't be held down two days in a row by the Twins. Look for Andy Dirks to rebound from an ugly at-bat yesterday when he struck out on three pitches with a solid effort starting a couple of rallies himself.
Benoit and Valverde will do their thing successfully in the 8th and 9th.
Tigers 5 Twins 3.