Seattle Mariners (66-83) at Detroit Tigers (86-63)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Lookout Landing
Pitching Matchup: LHP Joe Saunders (11-14, 5.18 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (12-8, 4.56 ERA)
For an organization that has been aggressively promoting prospects in a lost season, it's a bit surprising that Joe Saunders has made 30 starts for the Mariners this year. Saunders has been the epitome of an innings eater, logging 5 2/3 innings per start with otherwise mediocre numbers. He had a great stretch in the middle of the year when he allowed a 2.37 ERA in nine starts from May 29th through the All-Star Break. In his other 21 starts, however, he has a 6-11 record and 6.59 ERA.
Saunders has been even worse in the second half, allowing a 7.11 ERA, 5.85 FIP, and 2.10 WHIP in 55 2/3 innings. He only went three innings in his last start, allowing seven hits and six runs at home against the Houston Astros. He struck out five hitters -- the first time he has done so since July -- and walked one.
Right-handed hitters have had even more success than normal against Saunders this season. They are hitting a blistering .341/.398/.566 with 21 homers in 607 plate appearances. That .964 OPS would rank fifth in baseball, ahead of guys like National League MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, and Freddie Freeman (who is left-handed, but that's not the point). When you turn every right-handed hitter you face into Mike Trout, you have issues.
It's almost like Rick Porcello is trolling the Tigers' fanbase at this point. Fresh off one of the worst starts of his career in Boston, he twirled his first career complete game in his last start. Porcello was brilliant, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out five. He didn't walk anyone until Adam Dunn got a free pass to start the ninth inning, which ultimately may have cost him a shot at the elusive "Maddux" -- a complete game with under 100 pitches thrown.
"You don't even have a name tag. You've got no chance. Why don't you just fall down?"
The Tigers are going to need some introductions or something tonight, because a lot has changed for the Mariners since these two teams last faced in April. Gone are Jason Bay, Brendan Ryan, Kelly Shoppach, Jesus Montero, Michael Morse, and Robert Andino, all of whom played for the Mariners back in April. Newcomers like Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, Carlos Triunfel, and Abraham Almonte have taken their places and are getting plenty of playing time.
Saunders has decent numbers in four career starts at Comerica Park, but he hasn't faced the Tigers since June of 2011. He has been abysmal for the majority of 2013, however, and facing a lineup likely to be stacked with eight right-handed hitters won't help. Porcello has decent career numbers against the Mariners, but a good chunk of Seattle's lineup will be seeing him for the first time. I think it's safe to say he will fall in the middle of the two extremes we've seen in his last two starts, though.
The offense handles Saunders en route to an easy win.