Chicago White Sox (40-66) at Detroit Tigers (61-45)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: LHP Hector Santiago (3-6, 3.33 ERA) vs. RHP Doug Fister (9-5, 3.67 ERA)
Since we last saw Santiago, he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Kansas City Royals. His walk rate has increased by a fairly significant amount since I last previewed him thanks to nine walks in his last two outings. He allowed six runs against the Tigers on July 23rd, and while his defense wasn't particularly helpful -- only three of the runs he allowed were earned -- he was only able to contain a Miguel Cabrera-less lineup for a few innings.
Another interesting tidbit from Santiago's last two starts is that the reverse platoon splits he had prior to his previous start against Detroit -- his OPS against lefties was over 100 points higher than righties -- have all but disappeared. Right-handers are hitting .215/.295/.391 against him now, in no small part thanks to Tigers right-handers going 5-for-17 with three extra base hits on July 23rd.
While his home run rate isn't particularly high, Santiago's extreme fly ball tendencies will play better at Comerica Park than they did in Chicago. Santiago is allowing a 44.1% fly ball rate, 10th in the majors among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched. This goes hand in hand with a 13.0% pop-up rate, which is slightly above the American League average of 10.0%. If he continues to allow fly balls at this rate, Santiago's success could partially depend on how the ball is carrying at Comerica tonight.
It appears that Doug Fister's second half splits don't kick in right at the 81-game mark, but rather around the All-Star Break. In his last three starts -- two of which have come after the break -- Fister is 3-0 with just three runs allowed in 20 innings. He has 16 strikeouts to just four walks (and a hit batter) during this stretch. More importantly, he has looked like the guy that has dominated down the stretch in the last two seasons. If Fister can be that effective again, this rotation goes from awesome to downright frightening.
Despite the Indians' seven game winning streak -- thanks for nothing, Addison Reed -- they have actually lost a half game on the Tigers since the All-Star Break. The Tigers lineup has found its stride, even with Cabrera missing some time due to injury. The Tigers may be better served to keep him out of the lineup for a few days -- especially as long as Jhonny Peralta is still around -- to keep him healthy for a stretch run. Don't be surprised if Cabrera gets the day off tonight while Jose Iglesias makes his Tigers debut at third base.
Fister keeps rolling and the Tigers win their sixth straight game.