Los Angeles Angels (65-60) at Detroit Tigers (67-57)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven
Pitching Matchup: RHP Zack Greinke (10-5, 4.01 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (9-8, 4.67 ERA)
Greinke's return to the American League hasn't yet provided the boost that the Angels were hoping for when they traded for him. In five starts, he is 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA and has allowed a .306/.381/.460 slash line to opposing hitters. Greinke's struggles have mirrored that of the entire pitching staff, which has allowed a 5.62 ERA since leaving Detroit in mid-July and is a big reason why the team is just 15-17 during that same time period.
While he has struggled recently, Greinke has had the Tigers' number throughout his career. In 22 starts -- all as a member of the Kansas City Royals -- he is 11-6 with a 2.84 ERA against Detroit. Of all the Tigers hitters with more than 10 career plate appearances against Greinke, only Delmon Young has an OPS above .650, and odds are he will be on the bench tonight.
Porcello wasn't very good in his start earlier this season against the Angels, allowing 5 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, but the offense was able to pick him up en route to an 8-6 Tigers win. However, that was his first start after the All-Star Break; Porcello had not pitched in 9 days prior to that outing. Normally, I would give him a pass for this sort of thing, but the Angels' offense has been on fire in the second half, putting up an OPS of .820 as a team in their last 38 games. 2012 AL MVP runner-up Mike Trout -- yeah, I said it -- is leading the way with a slash line of .347/.425/.643 since the break.
Pitching = everything
Once again, the world is deprived of a Justin Verlander-Jered Weaver matchup in this series. Weaver pitched on Wednesday -- picking up his 16th win of the season against the Boston Red Sox -- and will not face the Tigers this weekend. That being said, the other guys taking the mound for Los Angeles are no slouches. Greinke and Dan Haren have stellar track records against the Tigers, and Ervin Santana is capable of throwing 8 shutout innings at any time. The Angels' bullpen has come back to earth in the second half, allowing a 6.01 ERA in 115+ innings after posting a spectacular 3.16 ERA in the first half.
Tonight's pitching matchup looks like a recipe for disaster, especially considering Greinke's awesome numbers against the Tigers and how hard the Angels hit Porcello in July. That being said, I'm not entirely sold on a guy that has allowed at least 4 earned runs in each of his last four starts suddenly "figuring it out" and shutting down the Tigers for 7+ innings. If the Tigers can knock Greinke out early to get into a tired Angels' bullpen -- they used six relievers in last night's 14-13 win over the Boston Red Sox -- then runs might be easier to come by.
The Angels' bullpen continues to struggle, blowing a late lead to open the series.