Game 145 Preview: Tigers at White Sox

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Rick Porcello will try to right the ship for the Tigers tonight against rookie Erik Johnson and the Chicago White Sox.

Detroit Tigers (82-62) at Chicago White Sox (58-85)

Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field

SB Nation blog: South Side Sox

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.76 ERA) vs. RHP Erik Johnson (0-1, 4.50 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Porcello 26 153.0 6.76 2.29 1.00 1.33 3.81 3.57 2.2
Johnson 1 6.0 1.50 4.50 1.50 1.67 6.38 6.11 -0.1

Johnson made his major league debut last week against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium... and looked like a rookie making his debut against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Johnson gave up five runs (three earned) in six innings, walking three and striking out one. He had trouble locating anything besides his fastball, missing the strike zone with 22 of 42 breaking pitches. I included his cutter in here because (a) it averaged five miles per hour slower than his four seam fastball and is basically a slider, and (b) he missed the strike zone with nearly half of the 27 cutters he threw.

Johnson has been excellent in the minors this year, amassing a 12-3 record and 1.96 ERA in 142 combined innings at Double-A and Triple-A. He struck out 8.3 batters per nine innings, but only walked 2.5 batters per nine. In 57 innings at Triple-A, he allowed a 1.08 WHIP while striking out nearly a batter per inning. Johnson was a second round pick out of Cal in 2011.

Despite going through That Start In Los Angeles, Porcello's outing against the Boston Red Sox might have been his worst showing of the season. He made it through five innings, but was tagged for nine runs (eight earned) on seven hits, including three home runs. He also walked four batters, and the Red Sox won 20-4.

Given that Rick is not fashionable to wear an outfit that would match with red socks, it makes sense that he has dominated the White Sox this season to the tune of a 3-0 record and 2.36 ERA in four starts. Last time he faced them, he gave up just one run in 7 1/3 innings.

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

At the end of play on September 9th, 2012, the Tigers trailed these same Chicago White Sox -- minus Jake Peavy and stuff -- by two games in the AL Central race. This year, they lead the Cleveland Indians by 4 1/2 games. On September 10th, I complained that my job did not offer me free nachos, because that's how worried I was about the Tigers' chances of making the playoffs. They were also dominated by an unheralded White Sox rookie that night, but still rebounded to make the playoffs. I'm not saying the same thing will happen, but that's just because I don't think the Tigers will lose tonight.

Outlook

We're not sure if it's his dashing good looks, power sinker, or lack of cooking skills (we're assuming), but Porcello has owned the White Sox over the last couple years. I already detailed his 2013 numbers against them above, and his 2012 stats were even better. It's possible that Johnson continues the recent run of White Sox rookie pitchers handling the Tigers' lineup -- Jose Quintana fared well last season and Andre Rienzo nearly beat them this season -- but I think the Tigers take care of business tonight.

Prediction

Porcello pitches well and the Tigers stop their skid.

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