Game 109 Preview: White Sox at Tigers

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Porcello and the Tigers will look to sweep the White Sox and win their eighth consecutive game today.

Chicago White Sox (40-68) at Detroit Tigers (63-45)

Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation blog: South Side Sox

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Andre Rienzo (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.49 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Rienzo 1 7.0 7.71 3.86 0.00 1.14 2.61 4.21 0.2
Porcello 19 112.1 6.73 1.92 0.88 1.26 3.51 3.36 2.0

Rienzo is a 25 year old right-hander from Brazil who made his big league debut five days ago against the Cleveland Indians. He allowed three unearned runs in seven innings, striking out six while walking three. One of the top prospects in the White Sox system -- Keith Law had him as high as #3 prior to the 2013 season -- Rienzo progressed rapidly through the upper levels of the White Sox system over the last couple years. He was 8-6 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.33 FIP in 20 starts at Triple-A Charlotte before his call-up.

Rienzo's arsenal isn't particularly impressive, with his four-seam fastball sitting at 91-92 miles per hour and topping out at 94. Scouting reports list his velocity as a bit higher, but profile him as a reliever in the long term. He also throws a cutter that sits at 88-89 and a curveball in the high 70s. He threw a few changeups in the mid 80s in his last start, a pitch he has been working on for a while now. Despite the vanilla arsenal, Rienzo has struck out over a batter per inning at every level above rookie ball. Rienzo's swift ascent is particularly impressive when you consider he missed 50 games in 2012 due to a suspension for PED use.

Porcello has been on a roll lately, winning his last four starts. Two of those were against these same White Sox, in which Porcello allowed three runs in 13 innings. Dating back to last season, Rick is now 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA against the Pale Hose in six starts.

While Porcello's overall numbers haven't gotten much better in 2013, the underlying improvements are promising. He has reduced his OPS against left-handed hitters by over 100 points and has a 2.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio against lefties. Overall, his jump in strikeout rate and drop in walk rate have reduced his FIP to a career-low 3.52.

Outlook

For someone that struggled against the White Sox so often early on in his career, you would expect Porcello to slip up against them at some point. However, between the improvements he has made this season and how bad their offense is, there's no reason to assume anything will change. It would be nice to see Jose Iglesias get a start at shortstop with Porcello on the mound, but Jim Leyland feels content to leave Peralta at short with Miguel Cabrera out of the lineup.

Prediction

The bullpen plays a big role in a walk-off win.

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