Kansas City Royals (70-85) at Detroit Tigers (83-72)
Time/Place: 1 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Royals Review
Pitching Matchup: RHP Luis Mendoza (8-9, 4.44 ERA) vs. RHP Doug Fister (10-9, 3.43 ERA)
Each of Mendoza's last five starts have come against teams in the AL Central. In the three starts against Cleveland and Minnesota, he has allowed five combined runs in 17 innings of work. In the two starts against the Tigers and White Sox, Mendoza has been tagged for 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. His career numbers against the Tigers aren't much better, allowing 21 runs in 20 1/3 innings. No one on the Tigers roster has more than 9 plate appearances against Mendoza, but Austin Jackson's .714 average (5-for-7) is particularly amusing.
Other than a couple of hiccups, Fister has put together a monster second half for the Tigers. Nearly everyone (myself included) has forgotten that Fister is 8-3 with a 2.53 ERA in the second half and is averaging close to 7 innings per start. His walk rate is under 5% in September. With numbers like these, I'd imagine that nobody wants to see the likes of Fister, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander in the playoffs. Add in a peaking Anibal Sanchez, and that playoff rotation is scary good. That being said, they still have to get there first.
With a six game road trip to close the season looming on the horizon, today's game becomes even more important than this airtight playoff race has already demanded. Picking up another W before the Chicago White Sox start their four game series against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight would be huge, because I think that the Tigers will have less room for error than many expect.
Fister's torrid second half continues with another great start.