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Game 88 Preview: Tigers at Orioles

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Jul 8, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen (16) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Jul 8, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen (16) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (45-42) at Baltimore Orioles (45-41)

Time/Place: 4:00 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

SB Nation Blog: Camden Chat

Media: FOX, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Max Scherzer (8-5, 4.72 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (7-5, 3.93 ERA)

Unlike his rookie counterpart from the Japanese League, Chen hasn't enjoyed the fanfare or wild success of Yu Darvish. Chen, a 26 year old from Taiwan, has largely flown under the radar in Baltimore while putting up solid numbers in the O's rotation. He was 36-30 with a 2.48 ERA in four seasons as a member of the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central League. He had a Doug Fister-like 2011, going just 8-10 but posting a 2.68 ERA and a WHIP of 1.026 in 24 starts.

Like Jason Hammel, Chen's ERA took a hit just before the All-Star Break. Chen had a 3.38 ERA after his start on June 23rd, but has given up 13 runs in his last three outings. His FIP and xFIP are in the 4.4 range, but none of Chen's peripherals indicate that serious regression (or progression, for that matter) is imminent. He has pitched at least 160 innings in each of the past three seasons, but with the added travel and condensed schedule in American baseball, we may see Chen wear down towards the end of the season.

It's almost automatic to pencil in a quality start for Scherzer on the road at this point of the season. His last four road starts and 7 of his 10 starts away from Comerica this season have been of the quality variety. He has been much more wild on the road, allowing 24 walks to just 9 at Comerica this season. The Orioles have been unable to hit their way out of a wet paper bag lately, so I don't think it's much of a stretch to predict that this could be Scherzer's best road start of the season. If he can avoid the home run ball (typical Scherzer caveat, I know), he should be able to get deep into the game.

Outlook

Scherzer owns the best K/9 ratio in the American League while the Orioles lead the AL in strikeout percentage, fanning on over 21% of their total ABs. For the O's, this is a recipe for disaster. Much like that other Chen who seems to give the Tigers so many fits, Wei-Yin is a lefty whose fastball tops out at around 90 mph. I could see this being a pitcher's duel, but I'm not sure Chen is up to the task of slowing down this lineup.

Prediction

Jim Thome homers today.

Gameday Reading:

Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen showing willingness to make adjustments - Baltimore Sun, Eduardo A. Encina
"In his short time here, Chen has shown Orioles fans a certain toughness. His low-90s fastball isn’t dazzling, but the way he mixes it is."

Tigers 7, Orioles 2: It's gonna be a long second half - Camden Chat
"If tonight's wreck was any indication of where the season will go from here, it might be time to cut our losses on the Birds and find another hobby for the rest of the year. I hear stamp collecting is fun."

San Diego pals Adam Jones, Quintin Berry reuniting at Camden Yards - Baltimore Sun, Matt Slovin
I am all for starting the "Trade Berry for Adam Jones" rumors.