Chicago White Sox (60-92) at Detroit Tigers (89-64)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: RHP Andre Rienzo (2-2, 5.04 ERA) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (19-3, 2.95 ERA)
I think it's safe to say that Andre Rienzo does not like pitching at U.S. Cellular Field. In three home starts, he has allowed 16 runs (14 earned) in 15 1/3 innings. He has already given up seven home runs and has a 2.28 WHIP. On the road, Rienzo has looked like a legitimate big league pitcher. In 34 2/3 innings, he has a 3.63 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and a 4.14 FIP. On August 4th, he held the Tigers scoreless for six innings before giving up a pair of runs in the seventh in a 3-2 Tigers win.
Since then, Rienzo hasn't been very good. He has a 5.59 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, and an abysmal 1.19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his seven starts since leaving Detroit. He has three quality starts in this span, all on the road. The 10 home runs he has allowed in this span have inflated his slugging average a bit, but he is still allowing a .371 on-base percentage thanks to 21 walks in 37 2/3 innings.
Now that we have several starts' worth of data on Rienzo, we know that he likes using his fastball early and often. He throws his fastball 60% of the time on the first pitch of an at-bat -- 74% of the time if you include his cutter, which is a couple miles per hour slower -- but only 44% of the time overall. He's a big fan of the cutter when he gets behind in the count, and he goes to his curveball 50% of the time when he gets ahead. His changeup is primarily used against lefties, and while it hasn't been very effective by itself, he is holding lefties to a much lower OPS compared to right-handed hitters.
Tonight will mark Max Scherzer's fifth attempt at picking up his 20th win of the season. Max allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in four innings against the White Sox 11 days ago, his second five-spot allowed since picking up his 19th win on August 24th. Scherzer looked like he was back in form in his last start though, striking out 12 Royals in seven strong innings.
On paper, this is a huge mismatch. While Scherzer has struggled recently, he has still been better than most. His last start was very encouraging as well. He racked up 16 whiffs on 116 pitches, a gaudy 13.8% rate that was missing in his last start against the White Sox. Meanwhile, Rienzo has looked overmatched more often than not since his first start against the Tigers. He has been better on the road, but I wouldn't expect him to repeat what he did to the Tigers' offense in early August.
Scherzer finally gets number 20 tonight.