Justin Verlander (8-10, 4.29) vs. Fausto Carmona (4-3, 4.33)
I probably made this joke before, when the Tigers and Cardinals had to return for a matinee after playing long into the previous night, but what are the chances that today's game is one of the worst ever seen? Both the Detroit and Cleveland hitters have to be gassed, and several of them will likely get the day off. And each team's pitching staff is stretched thin, having used six pitchers from their respective bullpens.
But with Justin Verlander's turn coming up in the rotation today, the roulette wheel seems to have spun in Detroit's favor. On a day when the starting pitcher will likely have to go deep into the game - whether he's pitching well or not - it's nice to have the staff ace who can throw seven or eight innings on the mound. Unfortunately, Verlander is coming off his worst start of the season, in which the Orioles shelled him for seven runs and nine hits in just four innings. And he doesn't often pitch well against the Indians, with a 4-7 career record (1-2 this season).
Who else is available to throw today? Joel Zumaya was held out of last night's game, presumably for this very purpose. And Clay Rapada has been called up from Triple-A Toledo to take Todd Jones' spot on the roster (though it's probably for a cup of coffee as Kyle Farnsworth will join the team tomorrow). Also, Freddy Dolsi threw only 11 pitches, so he should be okay to go. Perhaps Armando Galarraga will also be available, as this is his day to throw on the side.
Considering all the Tigers have been through this week, in terms of injuries, transactions, and poor pitching, winning this series (and gaining a game on either the White Sox or Twins) would be something of an accomplishment. (I keep having to remind myself they won last night, because I'm still stewing over Nate Robertson's disastrous performance.)