Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Lookout Landing
Pitching Matchup: LHP James Paxton (2-0, 0.75 ERA) vs. RHP Doug Fister (12-9, 3.67 ERA)
Paxton is a consensus top 100 prospect who put up some decent numbers in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season. Paxton, who will lose his prospect status this winter when he turns 25, was 8-11 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 26 starts. He racked up 131 strikeouts in 145 2/3 innings though, and his 3.55 FIP paints a much more accurate story of what was really going on in Tacoma. His lone blemish was a walk rate of 3.58 free passes per nine innings.
In two big league starts, Paxton has held a pair of playoff caliber offenses to six hits and two runs in 12 combined innings. He gave up two runs (one earned) against the Tampa Bay Rays in his debut, then held the St. Louis Cardinals to just two hits in his last start. He has maintained his strikeout-to-walk ratio in the early going, racking up eight whiffs to three walks.
Your typical big lefty -- he's 6'4", 220 pounds -- Paxton has a fastball that sits at 94-95 miles per hour, a changeup in the mid-to-high 80s, and a curveball in the low 80s. He has relied heavily on the fastball in his first two starts, throwing it 92% of the time on the first pitch of an at-bat. The changeup is used primarily against righties, and the curveball is his go-to pitch with two strikes.
Doug Fister's last start went much better than expected against a Royals lineup that has made him look pretty bad at times in 2013. He walked four batters for the second time all season -- the other came on September 2nd, oddly enough -- and allowed eight hits but stranded enough Royals baserunners to allow just one run in 7 2/3 innings. He has just 14 strikeouts to nine walks since getting shellacked by the Oakland A's at the end of August, but has only allowed six runs in 21 innings.
Expectations for the Tigers offense hitting Paxton today: 4 (Baseline 5; -1 for Uh Oh Rookie Pitchers are Our Kryptonite; +1 for But He Has Less Command than Delmon Young Wearing a Blindfold; -1 for Dude, We Swing at Everything; -1 for Lefties are the Devil, Bobby; +1 for First Pitch Fastballs are Quite Tasty Indeed; +1 for We Already Got Shutout Last Night so it Probably Won't Happen Again, Right?; -1 for Tokarzian No Hubris Reflex)
Despite the foolproof mathematical analysis above saying otherwise, I think the Tigers match up well against Paxton. They are the third-best fastball-hitting team in the majors and are hitting a whopping .343/.344/.523 off the first pitch as a team. Meanwhile, Fister has been excellent against his former team, holding them to just two runs in 14 innings since coming to Detroit.
Fister dominates and the Tigers win to take three of four.