Los Angeles Angels (50-42) vs. Detroit Tigers (48-44)
Time/Place: 1:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven
Pitching Matchup: Jerome Williams (6-6, 4.67 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (8-5, 4.84 ERA)
Williams has been a decent back-of-the-rotation starter for the Angels this season, averaging 6 1/3 innings per appearance. He has shown flashes of brilliance this year, but has generally been an innings eater that will allow 4-5 runs per start. His last outing -- his first in an entire month because of a DL stint -- he allowed 5 runs on 7 hits against the New York Yankees in 6 innings.
While Williams seems like the kind of guy that will come in and shut the Tigers down, there are two major trends working against the 30 year old righthander. First, he is just 1-4 with a 5.95 ERA on the road this season. Second, he is 0-4 with a 7.54 ERA in his last four starts. Williams didn't look particularly sharp in his first start off the disabled list and it remains to be seen whether his breathing issues that sidelined him in June are completely resolved.
Scherzer wasn't particularly sharp or efficient against the Baltimore Orioles in his last start, but at just 94 pitches, could probably have gone another inning had it not been blazing hot in downtown Baltimore that day. Scherzer limited the damage by pitching two scoreless innings to close out his start before chaos broke loose in the later innings. Today, look for Scherzer's command to improve. He has only walked 9 hitters at Comerica Park all season compared to 26 away from home. He is also allowing an OPS of just .735 at home compared to .827 on the road. In fact, if you take away his first start of the season, Scherzer has just a 3.29 ERA at home this year.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Angels, one of the more aggressive offensive teams in the league, take several first-pitch swings against Scherzer. He will need to be on his game with multiple pitches to ward off anyone sitting on his fastball. While Scherzer has been very good at home this season, the Angels offense has caught fire in recent weeks. If the Tigers offense can put up some runs on the struggling Jerome Williams, Scherzer may back his way into his 9th win of the season.
The Tigers are 1.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox heading into this weekend's series.