Game 47 Preview
Time/Place: 4:08 p.m. EST, Comerica Park
Media: Tigers Radio Network, Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.tv
Twins: PJ Walters (Making 2013 Debut after recall from Rochester)
Tigers: Doug Fister (3.62 ERA, 7.08 K/9, 1.48 BB/9, 0.16 HR/9)
The Twins have had a rough go with starting pitching over the last week and changes are afoot. Vance Worley and Pedro Hernandez have both been shipped to the minors over recent days. Samuel Deduno's start on Friday didn't go well as he made his 2013 Twins debut. On Saturday P.J. Walters will try to make a better splash into the Twins rotation in his first start on the campaign for the Twins. (a 40-man roster move by the Twins to make room for Walters is pending evidently)
Walters has been pitching well at Triple A Rochester posting a 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA with a quick Baseball Reference review showing he has pitched into the 7th inning in six of his last seven starts. Twins starters have been posting short outing after short outing. The Twins could use Walters to go deep into this game if he's able. The good news for Twins fans is that they can look back no further than last year to see that Walters made two solid starts against the Tigers. On September 23rd at Comerica Park, Walters hurled a gem in a 2-1 Twins victory. The Tigers could only muster 6 baserunners and one run in Walters' 6 innings that day. One week later at Target Field Walters once again held his own against the Tigers allowing two earned runs in 5 innings. However Andy Dirks and Miguel Cabrera homered off of ex-Tiger Casey Fien in the 8th inning that day for a 6-4 Tigers victory. (author's note, I attended that game in Minnesota. Cabrera's homer left the field in record time. A laser shot line drive.)
Walters struggled in Minnesota other than his two late season starts versus Detroit. He finished the season with a 2-5 record and 5.69 ERA. He features a fastball that Fangraphs has averaging a very pedestrian (but very Twins-like) 88-mph. He mixes in a cutter, curve, and a change. He posted a K/9 of 6.13 and BB/9 of 3.21 while yielding a homer approximately every 5 innings. On paper he's the kind of pitcher that should easy pickings for the Tigers lineup. Which, of course, wasn't the case last September.
Doug Fister looks to follow up the one-hit gem spun by Anibal Sanchez on Friday night. Fister is also looking to turn the tide on his results in the month of May. After posting an ERA of 2.38 in April he has turned in a very unsightly 5.66 in the month of May. It's mostly batted ball luck doing Fister a bad turn here in May. His BABIP has skyrocketed to .419 in May while being at a low .277 in April. Otherwise he's striking out and walking batters are very normal rates. Things should turn around soon and the Twins may be the tonic for what ails him.
With the Twins if Fister can corral Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham there really aren't many other spots in the order that will consistently be a major threat.
The Twins have an exciting farm system for prospect-watchers to drool over with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano headlining the future in Minnesota. But the present day Twins are a motley collection built around the idea of what Justin Morneau used to be, the power bat of Josh Willingham, and future Minnesota Governor Joe Mauer (hey, the good folks of Minnesota elected Jesse "the Body" Ventura to the Guv's Mansion and Al Franken to the US Senate. State Icon Mauer is a shoe in.). Otherwise there isn't really another player on the current roster that appears to be a cornerstone talent outside of perhaps recently demoted (to make room for Walters) but likely to be recalled in short order Oswaldo Arcia and rookie Aaron Hicks. In short, until the kids arrive in waves, the Twins are a mess.
The Twins losing ways of late has revolved mainly around their starting pitching being hugely vulnerable leaving their bullpen over-exposed. The Tigers are team that can put the ball in play and hit for power against a Twins staff that misses hardly any bats. The Twins defense is going to eventually crumble under the weight of so many balls in play to chase down over the course of the season.
Well....Kurt went "no hitter" on his prediction yesterday and almost nailed it. Luckily a "bad" prediction here may only bring a few snarky remarks in the comments. No money on the line. With that said, I'm going down swinging. It's safer to call it a close game, but I see another blowout brewing. Walters success against the Tigers doesn't worry me since the Tigers offense is starting to look very potent over the last few days. Walters can't keep the Tigers down forever. Fister rolls through 8 innings. Don Kelly goes deep again. That Cabrera guy may be heard from as well. 9-2 Tigers.