Detroit Tigers (8-5) at Seattle Mariners (6-9)
Time/Place: 10:10 p.m., Safeco Field
SB Nation blog: Lookout Landing
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (1-0, 4.09 ERA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (1-2, 3.05 ERA)
Felix hasn't been particularly sharp in his last two starts, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 16 hits in a combined 13 innings. In his last start, the Texas Rangers attacked his fastball early in the count, and for good reason. Last year, opposing batters hit .403/.408/.550 off of Hernandez on the first pitch of an at-bat. Those figures dropped to a respectable .301/.307/.402 in an 0-1 count. Once he got two strikes? It was over. Opposing batters hit just .134/.210/.187 with two strikes off of Felix last season. If the Tigers can make solid contact early in the count, it may pay off to be more aggressive this evening.
One of the reasons King Felix is so good is because of his explosive repertoire. He throws a four-seam fastball that sits at about 93 miles per hour, a sinker that is a touch slower than the four-seamer, a slider, curve, and changeup. All five have proven to be plus pitches (though the sinker was particularly hitable last season). One interesting thing about Felix compared to other pitchers is that he will throw his changeup with abandon to right-handed hitters, especially with two strikes. Most pitchers will only throw their changeup to opposite-handed hitters.
Max looked excellent in his last start, racking up 11 strikeouts in six inning against the Oakland A's. Don't be too quick to hand him any Cy Young votes, though: he always does that against the A's. Still, this was impressive.
His career numbers against the Mariners aren't too shabby, though. In five starts, Max is 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 32 innings, including a 2-0 record at Safeco Field. He has allowed more fly balls than usual this season (small sample size alert!), which will play well in the spacious outfield at Safeco (cliche alert!). Scherzer has continued to get a disproportionately high number of swings and misses in 2013. His 13.9% swinging strike percentage is 7th in all of baseball, and 14 of his 18 strikeouts this season have been swinging.
I hope Robert Andino plays tonight* because otherwise this part looks pretty foolish
If anyone has any updates on Mr. Andino's facial expressions now that he is no longer a Baltimore Oriole, said updates would be much appreciated.
*Yeah, he probably won't start over Dustin Ackley given Scherzer's poor splits against left-handed hitters, but I love that picture.
With King Felix going for his 100th career win tonight -- a point that will be mentioned at least 10 times during tonight's broadcast, to be sure -- the Safeco Field crowd will be a lot more amped up than they were last night. Felix seemed to feed off of the atmosphere in his last start, but got a little too excited at times. I think he will be more controlled tonight, which doesn't bode well for the Tigers offense.
Speaking of, how the blazes did this team strike out 16 times last night? Six of those strikeouts were against starter Aaron Harang, which is about six too many strikeouts to be having against Aaron Harang. I assume that they were too busy laughing at the goofy names coming out of the bullpen to put together serious swings against them, so it was nice of Yoervis Medina to walk in a couple of runs.
Regardless, we're facing King Felix tonight. I don't like this.
Mariners in a close one.