Dontrelle Willis (0-0, 5.40) vs. Jose Contreras (0-0, 7.20)
Dare we hope that the Detroit Tigers can enact a little bit of payback for getting swept by these Chicago White Sox last weekend at Comerica Park? Facing Jose Contreras might present just such an opportunity. Last year, he was actually worse at home than on the road, with a 6.00 ERA. The Tigers tagged Contreras for five runs (four earned) and 10 hits in five innings a week ago, but Gas Can Grilli let him off the hook with a seventh-inning implosion.
And what will we see from Dontrelle Willis tonight? Last Saturday, the D-Train posted one of the stranger pitching lines you'll see, allowing just one hit over five innings but also issuing seven walks. But shortly before he was pulled from the game, Willis shook his arm and looked at his hand between pitches, leading Jim Leyland and the team trainer to come out to the mound and check if he was injured. It's a question that will probably hang over Willis until he either starts pitching well or confirms suspicion by going on the disabled list.
The Tigers surely want to win tonight anyway, but our friend Sam Mellinger points out that it might be more important than we realized. No team in the "modern era" has ever finished in first or reached the playoffs after starting 1-9. 2-8, however, is a different story. (Sam also links to a column by the Rocky Mountain News' Tracy Ringolsby, who said he saw this coming for the Tigers. Well, gee - that's easy to say now, isn't it?)
In case you didn't catch the news, the Tigers called up Clay Rapada this afternoon, so Leyland will have an extra left-hander to use against Nick Swisher and Jim Thome, if needed. (Yorman Bazardo was sent down to Toledo to clear a roster spot.)
South Side Sox has your SB Nation opposing view for this weekend's series.