Oakland Athletics (74-57) at Detroit Tigers (77-55)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Athletics Nation
Pitching Matchup: RHP Dan Straily (6-7, 4.56 ERA) vs. RHP Doug Fister (11-6, 3.54 ERA)
Straily has shown flashes of brilliance this season, holding the opposition to one run or fewer in six of his 21 starts this season. His latest outing of that sort was against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 12th when he allowed a run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. Normally, outings like these in nearly one-third of a pitcher's starts would result in a pretty good ERA. Unfortunately for Straily, he has allowed at least five runs on seven separate occasions this season. His last outing in this category came in his last start, when the Baltimore Orioles rocked him for six runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Since the All-Star Break, Straily has had issues with his command, walking nearly four batters per nine innings. He walked four hitters in his last start, and still walked three in that start against the Blue Jays referenced above. Add in the fact that he has allowed seven home runs in his seven starts in the second half and you see why he has a 5.20 ERA since the All-Star Break.
Overall, Straily has done a good job of limiting the damage against right-handed hitters this season. Righties are hitting .225/.288/.333 this year. Lefties, on the other hand, have 23 of the 34 extra base hits he has allowed (including 15 of 20 doubles) and are hitting .261/.341/.434. He has also struggled with his command against lefties, issuing over twice as many walks to lefties as to righties this year. Since the All-Star Break, 12 of the 16 walks Straily has allowed have been to lefties.
After allowing an un-second-half-Fister-like seven runs in his previous two starts, Doug got back on track against the New York Mets, allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings. He hasn't been quite as dominant as in 2011 or 2012, but he still has a 2.31 ERA and 1.29 WHIP since the break. In fact, nearly all of his peripherals have gotten worse compared to this year's first half, but he is stranding 83% of baserunners.
I spent a couple hours doing some research last night, and it turns out that baseball did not change any rules that would allow the A's free baserunners every inning; our pitching has just been really bad in this series. The struggles are magnified by the fact that the entire pitching staff has a 2.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in the second half. For reference, Zack Greinke has a 2.86 ERA and 1.16 WHIP this season.
While I don't expect those numbers to continue, I also don't expect the 8.40 ERA and 2.07 WHIP from the past two games to become the norm, even with the Billy Beane Machine in town for two more days. The Tigers offense has shown a lot more life than usual in rough stretches like this, which is encouraging. Expect that to continue tonight.
The losing streak stops at two thanks to a big night from Prince Fielder.