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Game 160 Preview: Tigers at Marlins

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The Tigers have clinched the AL Central, but there is still meaningful baseball to be played. Tonight, the Tigers kick off their final series of the season in Miami.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers (93-66) at Miami Marlins (59-100)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park

SB Nation blog: Fish Stripes

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.38 ERA) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (4-10, 4.45 ERA) Note: The Tigers have bumped Porcello from tonight's start, replacing him with Jose Alvarez (1-4, 5.50 ERA). It's expected Porcello will work out of the bullpen during the three game series

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Porcello 29 174.2 7.16 2.16 0.93 1.29 3.57 3.43 3.0
Koehler 22 137.2 5.82 3.33 0.92 1.35 4.29 4.50 0.6

Koehler spent about a month in the Marlins' bullpen to begin the year before joining the rotation in mid-May. Since then, the 27 year old right-hander has made 22 starts, allowing a .782 OPS in the process. He got off to a quick start, allowing just nine runs in his first 25 innings. Things changed in June when he allowed 17 runs in three starts, bumping his ERA from 3.22 to 5.09. He has hovered in the mid-4s ever since. He has been better in September, allowing a 3.09 ERA in four starts.

Surprisingly, Koehler's numbers are a bit worse at home this year. Marlins Park has been more hitter friendly than Rod Allen will tell you this evening, according to general park factors, but has yielded the fewest home runs of any park this season. Sure, part of that might be due to a Marlins offense that ranks dead last in just about every major statistical category, but the Marlins have only allowed 48 home runs at home this season, the second-lowest figure in the majors. Koehler has only allowed four of those homers, but is allowing hitters to get on base at a .363 clip at home thanks to an 11.1% walk rate.

Two of Rick Porcello's worst starts of his career came on the road this season. Somehow, his road ERA and WHIP are lower than his home figures. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is roughly half of what it is at Comerica Park, leaving his home FIP at a sparkling 2.97. On the road, Porcello has been able to strand 73.2% of baserunners -- which is amazing when you consider he didn't strand anyone in That Start in Los Angeles.

Because when are the Tigers going to play in Miami again?

Outlook

Since getting roughed up in Boston, Porcello has been dominant. In his last three starts, he has only allowed four runs. He has 24 strikeouts to just three walks during that span, and is holding opponents to a .528 OPS. It's worth pointing out that the offenses he faced are among the worst in the American League, but tonight he's facing the worst offense in baseball. He may need to continue that dominance tonight if the bats are a bit sluggish after Wednesday's celebration.

Prediction

The offense gets off to a slow start but scores a couple of late runs to pick up a win.

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