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Game 65 Preview: Rockies at Tigers

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Colorado Rockies (25-38) at Detroit Tigers (30-34)

Time/Place: 4:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Purple Row

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

Pitching Matchup: Christian Friedrich (4-2, 5.85 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (0-3, 3.15 ERA)

Friedrich is a 24-year old left-handed rookie who was the Rockies' first round pick in 2008. He pitched fairly well in the minors, amassing 432 strikeouts in 418+ innings, but he struggled a bit in AA over the past couple seasons. Scouting reports consistently tab him as a possible front-of-the-rotation starter who has a good fastball that can touch 95 (but sits in the low 90s), above average breaking pitches, and a changeup that needs work.

Friedrich has continued his minor league trends so far in the majors, striking out over a batter per inning while giving up plenty of runs as well. His BABIP is a gaudy .382 though, bringing his FIP down to a very respectable 3.61. Here's where it gets interesting: in three starts at Coors Field, Friedrich has an ERA of 12.60, but on the road that number drops to 1.80. He's 3-0 in those 4 road starts, with the other being a Doug Fister-like no decision in which he gave up 1 run in 7 innings against the San Francisco Giants. The Tigers might have their hands full with Friedrich today.

Fister's return from the DL seems a bit premature, but perfectly timed now that Drew Smyly is on the disabled list. He was tagged for 6 runs on 11 hits in his last outing against the Boston Red Sox -- who were shut out by the Chicago Cubs last night, by the way. Other than that, he has picked up where he left off last season in 2012. Before his last start, his ERA was 1.84 in 29+ innings of work. I think we will see this Fister today, though probably not for as long as Tigerdog would like. Fister will undoubtedly be limited by a pitch count, so don't be surprised if he's done after 75-80 pitches.

Please don't pitch to Carlos Gonzalez... just trade for him instead

There are a number of guys I would like our pitching staff to avoid, including noted Tiger killer Michael Cuddyer, but Gonzalez is quietly putting up MVP-type numbers this season. He is hitting .328/.389/.622 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs, second only to Carlos Beltran and Andre Ethier, respectively, in the National League. The one thing keeping him from the MVP discussion? Coors Field. His home/away splits are pretty ugly, last night's three-run homer nonwithstanding.

Outlook

The Tigers were due for a bullpen implosion at some point, so last night's 10th inning shouldn't be examined too closely in my opinion. Also due: the offense. Runs haven't been as scarce as they were in May as of late, but they still haven't exploded and jumped out to a big early lead in a while. Today seems like a prime opportunity, but I think the Tigers' struggles with lefty starters continues.

Prediction

Friedrich doesn't give up a run. If the Tigers win, it's via a late comeback against the Rockies' bullpen.

Gameday Reading:

Rockies 12, Tigers 4 -- Colorado Wins Extra Innings Game By 8 Runs - Purple Row, Jeff Aberle
"Baseball is weird." Enough said.

Rockies Throw Beer Keg at Closer, Jose Valverde Forgets What He’s Doing, Loses Game - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
These post titles are getting better and better.

LeMahieu's return to Comerica Park far from just another game - WXYZ.com, Brad Galli
DJ LeMahieu, who pinch-ran in the 10th inning last night, is a graduate of Brother Rice High School. [link via Purple Row]

Eight is enough in 10th inning as Rockies beat Tigers in series opener - The Denver Post, Patrick Saunders
"Call it a catharsis. It was as if the Rockies purged themselves of a season's worth of angst in one at-bat."