Detroit Tigers (82-59) at Kansas City Royals (73-68)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Kauffman Stadium
SB Nation blog: Royals Review
Pitching Matchup: RHP Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.35 ERA)
Duffy faced Verlander and the Tigers a few weeks ago, tossing six shutout innings in a 2-1 Royals victory. He walked three and hit a batter, but didn't allow his first and only hit until Miguel Cabrera poked a single into right field in the sixth inning. While some fans were disappointed with how feeble the offense looked against Duffy, other AL teams haven't fared much better. He threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins in his next start, and only allowed one run in his last outing.
Duffy showed some vulnerability in his last start, allowing five hits and four walks in just 3 2/3 innings. The walks, in particular, have been a problem throughout Duffy's career. He allowed 5.86 walks per nine innings in 27 2/3 innings prior to his injury last season, and 4.36 per nine innings in 105 1/3 innings in 2011. He has partially offset this with a batter-per-inning strikeout rate in his last two injury-shortened seasons, but dropped off this pace a bit in 2011.
It's pretty obvious that a 1.35 ERA is unsustainable over the course of a season, but even in his four starts Duffy has skated on thin ice. He is stranding 89% of the baserunners he has allowed and has yet to give up a home run this season. He is also allowing a 32.1% line drive rate, a figure that would cause more problems if his BABIP weren't .111 on grounders and fly balls.
The last time Justin Verlander pitched in Kansas City, things didn't go well. He allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings just after the All-Star Break. It was a strange outing, especially considering how dominant Verlander has been at Kauffman Stadium throughout his career. He is 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts, including seven shutout innings in a start earlier this season.
Last night's win clinched the Tigers' sixth winning season in the last eight years
Life is good.
Duffy is due to regress at any point, but there's no telling whether that will be tonight. The Tigers offense exorcised some demons last night against James Shields, but can they do it again? Duffy has proven to be tough to square up, but the walks will come back to bite him at some point. If the Tigers can get a key base hit or two tonight, they should be in good shape.
The offense gets to Duffy and the Tigers win again.