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Game 138 Preview: Tigers at Angels

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Aug 29, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starter C.J. Wilson (33) delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 29, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starter C.J. Wilson (33) delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (73-64) at Los Angeles Angels (75-63)

Time/Place: 9:00 p.m., Angels Stadium of Anaheim

SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Justin Verlander vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (11-9, 3.85 ERA)

Wilson has really struggled in the second half, allowing a 6.33 ERA in 11 starts after the All-Star Break. He has allowed 9 home runs in this time, a far cry from the 6 that he allowed in 18 starts during the first half of the season (in case you're struggling with the math, his homer rate has more than doubled in the second half). That being said, most of Wilson's long ball struggles have come away from home. He has allowed 5 home runs at Angels Stadium this year and 10 on the road.

How much has Verlander been victimized by a lack of run support? In August and September, JV has allowed 9 runs in his five starts that didn't take place in Kauffman Stadium. He only won two of those starts and the Tigers went 4-1. Give him two or three more wins, and talks of a second consecutive Cy Young for Verlander get a lot more serious. For now, though, he'll have to be satisfied with shutting down the Angels for a second consecutive year en route to a possible division title.

Statistical analysis of a "no duh" statement regarding the lineup

Wilson has some pretty significant righty/lefty splits, including a massive 4.24 walks per 9 innings to right-handed hitters. That being said, Ryan Raburn and Brennan Boesch should not be in the lineup tonight. Both have hit left-handed pitchers better throughout their careers, but neither can hit their way out of a wet paper bag against southpaws this season. Boesch is hitting a mediocre .240/.298/.347 that wouldn't look so awful if he were a normal lefty who murders right-handed pitching. Problem is, he's not. Meanwhile, Raburn's 2012 numbers are so bad that I'm just going to link them so as to not upset those with weak stomachs.

So who would I play instead? Andy Dirks, who has a 14% walk rate against lefty starters this year (though 50 plate appearances is a very small sample) and Avisail Garcia, whose righty/lefty minor league splits are probably in a dimension that only GWilson can access, but generally seems too awesome to possibly be as bad as Raburn and Boesch. Still, expect to see those two in the lineup tonight; Raburn for his career righty/lefty splits and Boesch for his limited success against Wilson (3 hits, including 2 doubles, in 6 at bats).

Outlook

For as much as Wilson has struggled lately and against the Tigers in his career, I don't have the best feeling about this game. I think that Verlander will be his usual Verlander self, but this might be another game where a middling starter -- in Wilson's case, the "middling" tag is only temporary -- finds his groove and shuts the Tigers offense down long enough for the opposing team to tack a couple runs on Verlander.

Prediction

Verlander has yet another quality start but picks up his 8th loss of the season.