Detroit Tigers (13-9) at Chicago White Sox (14-14)
Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (2-1, 2.45 ERA) vs. RHP Hector Noesi (0-1, 11.74 ERA)
Hector Noesi is only 27 years old, but is already pitching for his fourth big league organization, including three this April. Originally signed by the New York Yankees in 2004, he was part of the trade that sent Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. Noesi struggled for two years in the Mariners' organization before he was purchased by the Texas Rangers on April 12th. He made three appearances for the Rangers, allowing seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Less than two weeks after joining the team, he was claimed off waivers by the White Sox. His ledger with the Sox is still unblemished thanks to a scoreless outing in relief against the Tampa Bay Rays four days ago.
Noesi's batted ball rates are all over the map thanks to some low inning counts, but his largest sample -- 106 2/3 innings in 2012 -- indicates that he's an extreme fly ball pitcher. His career 40.1% fly ball rate would rank among some of the highest in baseball this season. Oddly enough, pitching at Safeco Field in 2012 and 2013 did not aid his home run rate. Unfortunately for him, this game is at U.S. Cellular Field, where the right amount of wind can turn a pop up into a shot to the warning track (or further). Noesi has already allowed four homers there in just 6 2/3 career innings.
The numerous ugly swings that the Tigers took last night were reminiscent of six days ago, when Max Scherzer struck out 10 White Sox hitters thanks to a staggering 25 whiffs in 110 pitches. Of course, it's easy to make hitters look bad when your pitches move like this.
Scherzer allowed seven hits, but only gave up two runs. He has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts this season and has at least seven strikeouts in every game.
Hitter to fear: Dayan Viciedo (.364/.391/.818 in 23 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Alexei Ramirez (.091/.180/.114 in 51 plate appearances)
Viciedo and Ramirez maintained the status quo against Scherzer last week, going 2-for-3 and 0-for-2, respectively. Viciedo reached base with a double and a triple, and scored a run on a sacrifice fly by Ramirez. Of more significance might be Jose Abreu, who struck out twice in three hitless plate appearances against Scherzer. While he has a pair of home runs and two doubles against Tigers pitching this year, he has also struck out nine times in 20 at-bats.
Last night's come-from-behind win showed one of the more subtle differences between good and great pitchers, something we may see again this afternoon. Jose Quintana stymied the Tigers during his first couple trips through the order, but the lineup was able to adjust due to his lack of secondary offerings. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander started throwing breaking pitches earlier in the count in order to work four more scoreless innings after giving up three runs in the third. Scherzer's deep arsenal plays the same way, giving him more ways to attack the opposition while on the mound. Noesi's fastball has been the culprit for the majority of home runs he has allowed, but only because hitters are able to sit on the fastball without a plus second pitch to worry about.
Scherzer picks up his second win of the season against the White Sox.