Chicago White Sox (72-59) at Detroit Tigers (70-61)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: LHP Francisco Liriano (5-10, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (14-6, 4.13 ERA)
Despite reassurances from White Sox fans that the Liriano trade is about more than facing the Tigers, all of that can be erased if he gets lit up tonight. To his credit, Liriano has been pitching well since changing uniforms. He has a 4.26 ERA with Chicago, a figure elevated by a 3 2/3 IP, 6 ER outing against the Oakland Athletics. He is still walking a lot of guys (16 free passes in his last 31 2/3 innings) but his strikeout numbers have returned as well (33 punch outs in that same span). If he gets a favorable strike zone, this could be a long night for the Tigers offense.
Now that I have the niceties out of the way, I can talk about Liriano's numbers against the Tigers. In 91 2/3 career innings against Detroit, Liriano is 5-6 with a 5.69 ERA. His strikeout and walk numbers are pretty good, but he has allowed an .802 OPS to Tigers hitters. Last season, Liriano made three starts against the Tigers and allowed 13 runs in 11 1/3 innings.
Now, please excuse me while I drool over Scherzer's August numbers
OK we're good. Scherzer was 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in the month of August despite having a BABIP of .384 in 32 innings. He struck out 44 hitters (33.9% of the batters he faced) while walking just 9. These stats (especially the 8 runs allowed) are the kind of numbers that can make the difference between winning the division and going home early, especially if Doug Fister continues to struggle. The one caveat to tonight's game is that he has faced the White Sox three times already this year. Like Jake Peavy last night, this kind of familiarity can get Scherzer into trouble if he's not on his A-game.
Getting a W against Peavy last night was huge (as well as extremely satisfying, knowing the strings that Robin Ventura pulled to push him back), but the job is just 1/3 done. With the pitching matchups hugely in the Tigers favor over the next couple days -- especially considering Chris Sale's pedestrian numbers against Detroit this season -- there is no reason why this division shouldn't be tied at the end of the weekend.
Scherzer takes a step back from his ridiculous August, struggling to get through 6 innings.