Game 138 Preview: Tigers at Red Sox

Winslow Townson

The Return of Jose Iglesias is just one subplot as two first place clubs square off in a September matchup. Both clubs have relatively comfortable leads in their respective divisions. Therefore this series might be more useful as a preview of a possible post-season match up.

Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox

Time/Place: 1:35 p.m., Fenway Park

SB Nation blog: Over the Monster

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Doug Fister vs. RHP John Lackey

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP GB% fWAR
Fister 27 172.2 6.62 1.72 0.57 3.81 3.22 55.7 3.9
Lackey 24 155 7.78 1.92 1.22 3.19 3.80 47.9 2.8

The Tigers venture into Fenway Park and right off the bat face a pitcher in John Lackey who has been having a resurgent season despite the lackluster W/L record sitting at 8-11. Lackey's 3.19 ERA coupling with a K-rate right in the ballpark from his best seasons as an Angel shows that Red Sox are getting some value from Lackey after missing a season in 2012 due to Tommy John Surgery. Lackey has faced the Tigers once this year...he logged a solid 7 innings in the Motor City on June 20th limiting the Tigers to 2 ER on 7 hits with 5 strikeouts. Lackey took a no-decision when Andrew Bailey surrendered a walk-off homer to Jhonny Peralta in the 9th.

Doug Fister takes the mound fresh off being tagged for 7 ER in merely 5 innings last week versus the Oakland A's. Fister looked in early August to be going off on another second half run that has seen him morph from a solid #4-ish starter into at least a #2 guy down the stretch in each of the prior two seasons. (indeed, his second half in 2011 was so amazing it nearly overshadowed Justin Verlander's tour de force campaign at times) However Fister hasn't quite been that guy in 2013. His second half has been fine but not dominant like the last two. Fister has some poor memories of the Red Sox this season as well. One night after Lackey's bullpen lost it for him back in June, Fister took the hill and was pummeled by the BoSox to the tune 6 runs on 11 hits while getting yanked with one out in the 4th. That was the Sawx only win in the 4-game set.

Its fun to note the ERA/FIP splits for Lackey and Fister. They are from Bizarro Land in relation to each other. Lackey's ERA matches Fister's FIP. Fister's ERA is right in line with Lackey's FIP. Take it for what you will...some put stock in FIP as an indicator and some don't.

Outlook

The Red Sox are enjoying a wicked good (do Bostonians really say "wicked" as much as it gets portrayed? I'd like to know) bounce back season. The stench from the Bobby V Era is being washed away much easier than the gasoline smell in Walter White's carpet on Breaking Bad. The BoSox are cruising along in first place and will be looking to gain a series win against Detroit to continue to hold the Tampa Bay Rays at arm's length a while longer.

There aren't a ton of great memories in recent seasons for Tigers fans to draw on when the Tigers visit Fenway Park. With a banged up lineup it will be once again on the shoulders of Detroit's rotation to keep the ball in the park and the Red Sox at minimum production. Will Miguel Cabrera return to the Detroit lineup? The Tigers hold a 7.5 game lead on the Cleveland Indians...they may be in no hurry to rush Cabrera back this time until the Tribe cuts into their lead a little bit more. While the Tigers have fared decently without Cabrera in the lineup, an excursion into Fenway to hook up against David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and the rest is a much more daunting challenge without the best hitter on the planet in the 3-hole.

Prediction

It's hard to feel really comfortable with Fister lately. He seems to be laboring a bit at times even before his rough go against the Athletics. Fister has left before finishing 7-innings in his last 5 starts, his longest streak of the year. Fister's 55% groundball rate is a good match for Fenway Park however. Can the Tigers' lineup give him a few runs to play with against Lackey? Not quite feeling it....David Ortiz will likely be heard from.

Red Sox 5 Tigers 3

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