Detroit Tigers (60-52) at Texas Rangers (65-45)
Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
SB Nation Blog: Lone Star Ball
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72 ERA) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA)
Feldman didn't join the Rangers' rotation full-time until May 14th... and proceeded to lose his first 6 starts afterward. His ERA during that time: 7.36. Since that date, Feldman has won six games in six starts -- though one was a vultured win via a relief appearance in extra innings -- and compiled a 2.81 ERA in that time. His FIP in July was a respectable 2.69, but a ridiculous 14.00 K/BB ratio during that time is clearly unsustainable.
Scherzer has struck out 18 batters while walking just three in his last couple starts, but has allowed 9 earned runs on 17 hits in the process. He wasn't more aggressive in terms of attacking the strike zone than normal -- 66% of his pitches in those two starts were strikes compared to 64% over the entire season -- but it seems as if the third time is NOT the charm for him this season. Both Boston and Cleveland (his last two opponents) were seeing Scherzer for the third time this year. For reference, he was also lit up by the Chicago White Sox back in May when he faced them for the third time. Expect Scherzer, who has not faced the Rangers this year, to bounce back tonight.
The Rangers have played some fairly average baseball lately, compiling an 18-16 record since they last faced the Tigers. They have started August off on the right foot, however, winning 6 of their first 8 games this month. Josh Hamilton's month-long slump has been highly publicized, but he is riding a 7-game hitting streak -- and is slugging .545 during that period -- coming into this series. Michael Young is also riding a hitting streak; his is currently at 9 games. Adrian Beltre has cooled off quite a bit, hitting just .244/.291/.407 since leaving Detroit in late June. New catcher Geovany Soto has an OPS of .778 in 5 games as a Ranger. Ian Kinsler comes in red hot, hitting .400/.486/.667 in August. Future Tiger Elvis Andrus -- hey, I can dream -- also has an OPS over 1.000 this month.
This one is hard to call. On paper, the pitching matchup seems to favor the Tigers. While Feldman is hardly walking anyone as of late, his career numbers against the Tigers are pretty awful. On the other hand, he has pitched much better at home this season. Meanwhile, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.41 career ERA against the Rangers. He has never started a regular season game in Texas, but he did make two postseason starts there last October, both of which the Tigers lost. I've also discussed his difficulties away from Comerica Park ad nauseum. Basically, it's a complete toss up, but it would nice to see the Tigers take two of three in this series against a struggling ball club.
Expect the Tigers to struggle early with Feldman -- who has decent reverse splits against lefties this season -- but knock him out in the middle innings while Scherzer pitches well enough to pick up win #11.
Rangers, Tigers hope to get leg up for dog days - MLB.com, Zack Meisel
"Riding a six-game winning streak, Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA) will take the hill for Friday's series opener."
Rangers Pitchers Since the All-Star Break - Lone Star Ball, Adam J. Morris
I don't know why there is a picture of Hope Solo in this post, but I'm not complaining.
Oswalt must get with program or get going - Fox Sports Southwest, Anthony Andro
"If Oswalt doesn’t want to pitch in relief for the Rangers, then he shouldn’t be pitching at all."