Kansas City Royals (70-84) at Detroit Tigers (82-72)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Royals Review
Pitching Matchup: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-12, 4.80 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.57 ERA)
Don't be fooled by Guthrie's ugly stat line above: he is absolutely on fire right now. He has an ERA of 2.00 in August and September. Take away his poor showing against the Boston Red Sox in late August and Guthrie's ERA in the last two months is a scalding 1.25. The Royals have won each of his last nine starts, including a 2-1 win over the Tigers on August 30th. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Guthrie's timing is impeccable.
Porcello isn't quite on Guthrie's level right now, but I'm more concerned about his recent inefficiency more than the results themselves. He hasn't pitched into the 7th inning in a start since August 18th against the Baltimore Orioles and the Tigers haven't won a game that he has started since August 7th against the New York Yankees (go figure). Porcello has pitched decently against the Royals this year, allowing five earned runs in a combined 13 innings between his two starts.
Mixed Results Against Guthrie
To no one's surprise, Miguel Cabrera has excellent career numbers against Guthrie. In 24 plate appearances, the slugger is hitting .368/.458/.684 with two home runs. Meanwhile, Delmon Young, Austin Jackson, and Ramon Santiago are all hitting below .150, while Brennan Boesch is 0-for-8 against the Royals' starter. Prince Fielder and Omar Infante have put up solid numbers against Guthrie, but in limited plate appearances.
Of the four games in this series, this is the one that I expect the Tigers to lose. Porcello's confidence has looked absolutely shot lately -- in no small part to the poor defense behind him -- and Guthrie is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball right now. If the Tigers pull this one out, it will probably be because the offense solved Guthrie and sent him to an early exit.
Guthrie continues his onslaught on the American League with another excellent outing today.