Chicago White Sox (60-93) at Detroit Tigers (90-64)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: LHP Chris Sale (11-13, 3.08 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.45 ERA)
Sale has dominated the Tigers this season, amassing a 3-1 record, 2.27 ERA, and 5.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in four starts. This is a far cry from 2012, when the Tigers knocked him around for a 6.00 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in three starts. Of course, the Tigers don't have the big lefty bat of Brennan Boesch in their lineup anymore. Boesch rocked Sale for two homers and four RBI in six at-bats last season. He struck out in the other four plate appearances, but that's not the point.
Against other teams, Sale has shown some vulnerability lately. He has allowed at least six runs in two of his past five starts, including six on nine hits against the Cleveland Indians six days ago. He has allowed a combined seven home runs in those two starts, though it's worth mentioning that both were at home. Both games were against righty-heavy lineups. Considering Prince Fielder is the only Tigers lefty to face Sale multiple times this season, this just makes his dominance over the Tigers that much more puzzling.
Speaking of dominance, Rick Porcello continued to own the White Sox with the first complete game of his career 11 days ago. This ran his record against the Sox to 7-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 4.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the past two seasons. His career numbers against the Sox aren't quite as sexy, largely thanks to a brutal 2010 where he was 1-3 with a 7.28 ERA against them.
Overall, Porcello has already shattered his career high strikeout total with 130 on the season. He is also a virtual lock to post a career best WHIP, FIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is 14 innings shy of a career best 182 innings, his 2010 total -- which coincided with the worst ERA of his career, oddly enough. The ERA is still higher than most would like, but make no mistake: 2013 has been a huge step forward for Rick Porcello.
Should Rick Porcello start in the playoffs?
Despite all the good things I said about him above, no.
For the fifth time this season, I need to think of a creative way to say "don't let Sale get ahead or that slider will carve you up." For the fifth time this season, it probably won't matter what I say. With apologies to a certain undeserving Cy Young winner, Sale is the best left-handed pitcher in the American League, and he has pitched like it against the Tigers this year. The question of the day is whether Porcello can maintain his dominance against the White Sox and keep the Tigers in the game long enough to poke across a couple runs against Sale.
Sale hands Porcello his first loss against the White Sox in over a year in a low-scoring affair.