Detroit Tigers (82-61) at Chicago White Sox (57-85)
Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (19-2, 2.88 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (10-12, 2.97 ERA)
Ho hum, just three more dominant outings from Chris Sale since he last faced the Tigers. Of course, that glosses over a start against the Texas Rangers where he was roughed up for eight runs in seven innings. It was the second time he has given up an eight spot this season and it momentarily bumped his ERA over the 3.00 mark for the first time since mid-May.
Despite the 4.30 ERA in his last four starts, he has 32 strikeouts to just five walks in 29 1/3 innings. In fact, he has just 13 walks since the All-Star Break, a rate of 1.72 per nine innings. Sale is walking 1.92 batters per nine innings on the season, a much lower rate than anyone ever expected out of him. Given the comparisons to future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, it's worth noting that Johnson only had two seasons with a sub-2.00 walk rate. In fact, the Big Unit didn't get his walk rate below 3.00 per nine innings for a full season until he was in his 30s. Sale is 24.
Max Scherzer has been maligned by sabermetric-friendly analysts recently for the run support he is receiving from the Tigers' offense. So, naturally, he made one bad pitch in his last start against the Boston Red Sox and ended up with his second loss of the season. He allowed an un-Scherzer-like three walks in the start, but the damage was done on a seeing-eye single by Will Middlebrooks after Stephen Drew's double put runners on second and third.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Scherzer's strikeout touch seems to have returned. He fanned eight Red Sox in his last start, giving him 24 strikeouts in his last 18 innings. He only had 33 K's in his prior 42 2/3 innings since the All-Star Break.
Obligatory update on how dominant Sale is against lefties
Left-handed batters are hitting .139/.208/.161 off Sale this season. This is a big reason why Nick Castellanos will get his second career start tonight. Here's hoping he goes 5-for-5 with three homers.
Despite the rough outing against the Rangers, Sale is pitching as well as he has all season. He dominated the Tigers in their last meeting, allowing just two hits in a complete game effort. Meanwhile, Scherzer hasn't been at his best, giving up eight walks in his last three starts. Four of those came in his stinker of an outing against the Oakland A's though, so this could just be a blip on the radar. Either way, expect runs to be at a premium tonight for both teams.
The Tigers win but Scherzer doesn't get the decision.