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Game 126 Preview: Angels at Tigers

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Aug 16, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Dan Haren (24) delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 16, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Dan Haren (24) delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Los Angeles Angels (66-60) at Detroit Tigers (67-58)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Dan Haren (8-10, 4.90 ERA) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (4-3, 4.42 ERA)

Haren hasn't been himself this season, posting his highest ERA, FIP, and xFIP of his career (in full seasons). He has dealt with a back issue lately, one that put him on the disabled list in mid-July. I am not sure whether this is something that has plagued him throughout the entire season, but his recent results suggest that the DL stint didn't change much. He is 2-2 with a 5.04 ERA since returning from the DL on July 22. Neither of his last two outings have lasted four innings, as Haren was lit up by the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays -- who, to be fair, are two of the hottest teams in baseball right now.

I've been trying to look at Haren's career splits against the Tigers, but Baseball Reference seems to think that I actually want to see Haren's game logs from the 1918 season. Haren wasn't even born until 1980. Needless to say, I'm operating entirely off of the baseless mindset that Haren dominates the Tigers. He had two starts against the Tigers last season, both of which were complete game victories in which he allowed a combined 8 hits and 1 walk.

Much of the attention that Smyly received while he was down in AAA was due to his ejection for throwing at former Tiger Will Rhymes. In the other four starts, Smyly was less than impressive. He compiled an 0-1 record and 4.50 ERA during this stint in Toledo, though it's worth noting that his innings were very limited -- he only pitched 14 total innings in those five starts. On the bright side, he only allowed two home runs.

Defending yesterday's assertion that Miguel Cabrera should be the AL MVP

According to Baseball Reference, Mike Trout leads the AL in WAR with 8.9 wins above replacement. Miguel Cabrera sits in fourth place with 5.5 WAR. While this is a sizeable gap, so is the 28.1 WAR that the Angels' hitters have compiled this season compared to the 11.7 WAR that the Tigers' batters are responsible for. Trout's 8.9 WAR makes up 31.7% of his team's batter WAR. Cabrera, on the other hand, is worth 47% of the Tigers' batter WAR. Is this method flawed? Absolutely, but so is the award itself. Until then, debate away on who truly deserves the hardware.

Outlook

Yet again, the Tigers are facing a struggling ace-level pitcher who has historically given them fits. I think Haren is a bit more vulnerable to giving up runs than Zack Greinke in this scenario because of his back issues, but I still won't be surprised if we see a repeat performance from the Tigers' offense tonight. On the other side, I'm strangely comfortable with how Drew Smyly matches up against this offense. They are righty-heavy, but the Angels' splits versus left-handed and right-handed pitchers are surprisingly even this year. If Smyly attacks the zone and hits his spots, he should be fine.

Prediction

Another poor offensive performance, Smyly gets a no-decision, and Ryan Raburn has another big night for Toledo.