Chicago White Sox (12-13) at Detroit Tigers (12-12)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: Jake Peavy (3-1, 1.67 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (1-0, 1.23 ERA)
I said it once and I'll say it again: Jake Peavy is back. The early stats agree, though there are tendencies -- a very low BABIP and a high LOB%, in particular -- that point toward some regression. For me, the key lies in his slider. The late movement and velocity on that pitch have both returned. Depending on which statistical database you peruse, Peavy is throwing his slider anywhere from 11.9 to 20.4% of the time this season. Based on the starts I've watched, I'd lean closer to the 20% range, which would be his highest figure in years.
The good news with Peavy? He lost his last start. The bad news? He threw a complete game, one-run gem against a red-hot Boston Red Sox offense. He attacked hitters all night, constantly mixing his pitches and locations to great effect. In particular, his work against the Red Sox' power lefty bats was very impressive. Expect him to take a similar approach with Prince Fielder that he did with David Ortiz, working in on his hands to try to jam him.
Kurt did a nice job of profiling Smyly yesterday, making my job much easier this morning.
Too long, didn't read? That puts Smyly's ERA closer to 3.85 than it does to 1.23. You can adjust that figure down a bit if you believe he's better than average or if you think his home run rate is a bit high. Interestingly, that ERA estimate is in line with his more sabermetric estimates of a 3.94 FIP, 3.64 xFIP, or 3.46 SIERA. Smyly has given up more than his fair share of home runs per fly ball, so I'm going to side with the lower figures here.
In short, that means even when you adjust some of the luck out of it, Smyly's still putting up good numbers. Not good numbers for a rookie. Just plain good numbers that you'd like to see a couple of his more-famous rotation mates put up.
Hot and cold
Since we last saw the White Sox, they are 7-9, but that's not telling the entire story. They lost three of four at home against the Baltimore Orioles, then won four straight road games (including a sweep of the Seattle Mariners). After that, they lost 5 straight games, including three at home to the aforementioned Red Sox. They beat Boston in the final game of that series before losing 2 out of 3 against the Cleveland Indians.
Here's an interesting stat for you: all five of the teams in the AL Central currently have losing records at home. Four of the five -- sorry, Minnesota Twins fans -- have winning records on the road. The White Sox are 7-4 on the road this season, in large part thanks to a 4-2 west coast road trip against Seattle and Oakland. There is no reason why teams are doing better on the road across the board, but if there's one team that can snap out of it, it's the Tigers. In each of the past three seasons, the Tigers have won at least 50 games at Comerica Park.
Peavy continues to dazzle in 2012 with another quality start this evening.
Combating the inevitable comedowns - South Side Sox, Jim Margalus
A few Sox hitters aren't finding May to be as friendly as April was. Adam Dunn homered last night, for what it's worth.
Delmon Young faces challenges with the Detroit Tigers and fans after hate crime arrest - ESPN, Howard Bryant
We know that Delmon Young won't return until at least tomorrow night, but his suspension ends today.
Jake Peavy no longer is a sorry sight - Chicago Tribune, David Haugh
Peavy is finally healthy and, despite his awful vision, pitching like it's 2007 all over again.