Toronto Blue Jays (56-65) at Detroit Tigers (64-57)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Bluebird Banter
Pitching Matchup: LHP Ricky Romero (8-10, 5.53 ERA) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (12-6, 4.41 ERA)
Look up the word "struggling" in the dictionary and you'll find a picture of Romero. After posting a 15-11 record and 2.92 ERA in 225 innings in 2011, Romero has already allowed a career high 91 earned runs this season. Not to mention, Romero was 8-1 on June 22nd this year. Since then, he is 0-9 with a 7.45 ERA in his last 11 starts. He is walking 4.75 batters per 9 innings this season and is only stranding 65.6% of runners, down from career marks of 3.78 and 72.8%, respectively.
Romero's career numbers against the Tigers aren't much better. In 5 starts, he is 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA. Delmon Young, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, and Gerald Laird all have an OPS above .900 against Romero, although in limited opportunities. Peralta has 6 RBI in 14 opportunities, and will likely have multiple chances to increase that total tonight.
Like Romero, Scherzer didn't pitch in the previous series between these two teams. However, the similarities end there. Scherzer is 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA in 4 career starts against the Blue Jays. Yunel Escobar has a gaudy 1.258 OPS against Scherzer in 27 plate appearances, but no one else has had much success against Max. Add in the fact that Max is still posting a ridiculous 5.14 K/BB ratio at home this season and you'll find that this is yet another pitching matchup that heavily favors the Tigers, at least on paper.
A losing record. The Blue Jays went 2-8 on a 10-game road trip immediately following their series with the Tigers. They didn't fare much better after returning home either, winning 3 of their next 10 games. During this 5-15 stretch, they were outscored 103-58. In their defense, the only team they faced with a losing record during this 20-game stretch was the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Third baseman Brett Lawrie will likely return to the lineup for the Jays tonight, while Jose Bautista is on a rehab assignment and will likely miss the series.
If there is ever a game where the Tigers need to bury the opposing starter early on, it's tonight. Romero is allowing an .870 OPS to hitters the first time through the lineup. This number decreases to .770 and .710, respectively, the second and third times through the batting order. He still has the stuff to shut down an opposing lineup -- as he did with the Oakland A's earlier this month -- but can't be given the opportunity to do so.
Romero adds himself to the list of left-handers that have stifled the Tigers offense this season, out-dueling Scherzer through 7 strong innings.