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Game 153 Preview: Royals at Tigers

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Justin Verlander takes the mound as the Detroit Tigers start a pivotal four game series against the Kansas City Royals.

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Kansas City Royals (70-82) at Detroit Tigers (80-72)

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

SB Nation Blog: Royals Review

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Luke Hochevar (8-14, 5.40 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (15-8, 2.74 ERA)

Hochevar has been consistently mediocre this season, posting a 5.06 ERA since facing the Tigers on May 1st and a 5.73 ERA since the All-Star Break. His recent numbers, while not spectacular by any means, are skewed by an outing in which he gave up 8 runs in 1 2/3 innings to the Minnesota Twins. Hochevar's struggles largely stem from his elevated home run rate, and his 4.32 xFIP reflects this. You might not be surprised to know that the Royals are 8-3 in games that Hochevar does not allow a home run and 5-14 when he allows at least one long ball. If there was ever a night where there were MORE DINGERS to be had, this is it.

While a sizeable segment of the fanbase was concerned about Verlander's effectiveness after allowing 6 runs to the Los Angeles Angels on September 8th, he has effectively shut them up with 15 consecutive scoreless innings. He will be expected to add a few more onto that streak today against a Royals offense that tattooed him for 8 runs on 12 hits back in August. I think it's safe to say that Verlander isn't going to tiptoe around against this lineup tonight. Expect him to be locked in from the get-go.

Outlook

After squandering a golden opportunity to get back into first place in the AL Central yesterday, the Tigers have a short turnaround heading into a series against a franchise that has tormented them in many a September past. This lack of time off could either be good or bad, but the bullpen could definitely use a break after pitching a collective 9 2/3 innings yesterday.

Prediction

Another gem from Verlander vaults the Tigers back into a share of the AL Central lead.