Game 161 Preview: Tigers at Marlins

Marc Serota

Anibal Sanchez returns home tonight as the Tigers and Marlins face off in Miami. Nathan Eovaldi will start for the Marlins.

Detroit Tigers (93-67) at Miami Marlins (60-100)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park

SB Nation blog: Fish Stripes

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TVTigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.64 ERA) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-6, 3.50 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Sanchez 28 177.0 9.86 2.75 0.46 1.18 2.46 3.17 5.9
Eovaldi 17 100.1 6.55 3.41 0.63 1.31 3.66 4.46 1.3

Eovaldi is a 23 year old right-hander that spent five years in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system before being shipped over to Miami in the deal that sent Hanley Ramirez to L.A. He spent the first couple months of the 2013 season recovering from a shoulder injury, then made a few starts in the minors before joining the Marlins' rotation in June.

Eovaldi has had a fantastic year to date, allowing three runs or fewer in 14 of his 17 starts. Thirteen of those 14 starts have been quality starts, and he has tossed five scoreless outings to date. When he isn't holding the opposition down, however, he has been really bad. In those three starts where he allowed more than three runs, he combined to give up 22 runs (20 earned) on 31 hits in 11 innings.

Other than the occasional dud of a start, Eovaldi has a bright future in the Marlins' rotation. His fastball averages 94-95 miles per hour and he has a decent slider that sits in the mid 80s. His 13.7% whiff rate on the slider is a bit lower than you would like from someone who throws as hard as he does, but we may see his strikeout rate increase as he matures. His minor league totals don't measure up yet, but he was moved very quickly through both systems he has played in and may be able to develop a bit more at the big league level.

As for Sanchez, don't read too much into tonight's start, aside from the cool bit about him returning to Miami. He's simply out there to keep his arm in game shape for the playoffs. Like Doug Fister last year, we may only see Sanchez toss four or five innings. Based on how the rotation is shaping up, I'd wager a guess that Sanchez starts Game 2 with Scherzer pitching in Game 1 to avoid a near two week layoff.

If you are interested in analyzing Sanchez's performance though, watch his command. He has walked 13 batters in his last six starts, a rate of 3.13 per nine innings. Over a full season, this would still be a career low for him, but it's well above the elite level he has performed at for most of the season. He has been the Tigers' most dominant pitcher this season at times, and if he can maintain this form heading into the playoffs the Tigers will be very tough to beat.

Nick, we need to talk

Thank you, BYB

Once again, I want to thank all of you for reading and commenting on these posts -- as well as all of our other pieces -- throughout the season. I love writing these, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them. As always, please let me know in the comments if there are any areas on which I can improve, features to add, etc. for the playoffs and/or next season.

Outlook

With both Boston and Oakland clinching home field in the ALDS last night, this game is truly meaningless for the Tigers. Sure, it would be nice to see the offense get hot and hang 10 runs on Eovaldi and the Marlins, but the only thing I really want to see tonight is a healthy Tigers ballclub. Miguel Cabrera will probably start, but don't expect to see him or Prince Fielder on the field for very long again tonight. Anibal will go four or five innings to stay sharp, then the pen will take over. Watch the Wild Card drama unfold, this one isn't worth your time.

Prediction

Another boring game occurs tonight.

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