Minnesota Twins (32-33) at Detroit Tigers (34-29)
Time/Place: 4:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Media: Fox Sports 1, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Samuel Deduno (2-4, 4.45 ERA) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-2, 2.24 ERA)
Samuel Dwduno's 2014 season has mirrored that of Friday night starter Kyle Gibson thus far. While Gibson has been lights out at home, Deduno has allowed a 5.27 ERA. Deduno's results on the road have been much better, however. He has allowed a 3.62 ERA away from Target Field compared to the 7.39 ERA Gibson had on the road going into last night's game. Sure, Deduno's peripheral numbers tell a different story -- he has a lower FIP and wOBA allowed at home -- but there's no reason to let those get in the way of a good narrative. He was solid in his first outing this year at Comerica Park, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings.
Like usual, Deduno has had problems with his command in 2014. His strikeout and walk rates are nearly identical to his career norms, but he has been slightly better about keeping the ball in the park. Ian Kinsler's home run off him on May 11th was the first dinger Deduno had allowed in 2014, and he has still only given up three all season. His inefficiency has been costly for the Twins. He is averaging just over five innings per start, and the team is 3-4 in games that he starts this year.
On a related note, the Tigers are 4-6 in games that Anibal Sanchez has started this season. He has yet to allow more than three runs in an outing. The Tigers are 0-3 in his last three starts -- all no-decisions for Sanchez -- despite him allowing just three runs in 21 1/3 innings. While the lack of run support is extremely discouraging, Sanchez's recent uptick in strikeouts is the opposite. He is striking out just under a batter per inning on the season, but has 21 punchouts to just three walks in his last three starts. Even more impressive is that Sanchez tallied a 10.9% swinging strike rate during these outings despite facing three lineups that rank among the bottom third in baseball in whiff rates.
Hitter to fear: Joe Mauer (.357/.438/.357 in 16 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Brian Dozier (.077/.200/.077 in 15 plate appearances)
Joe Mauer is the only hitter with a career OPS above .750 in more than three plate appearances against Anibal Sanchez, and all five of his hits have been singles. Trevor Plouffe is the only other Twin with a respectable OPS thanks to a home run. Otherwise, Sanchez has been dominant. Josh Willingham has seven strikeouts in 24 plate appearances, while Brian Dozier and Chris Parmelee are hitting .077 and .083, respectively.
Deduno has had similar success against the middle of the Tigers' order. Miguel Cabera is just 3-for-12 with no extra base hits, while Victor Martinez is 1-for-9. Alex Avila is even worse at 1-for-11, though he does have two walks.
Honestly, I just want Sanchez to get through a start against the Twins without hurting himself. Both of Sanchez's stints on the disabled list with the Tigers came after starts in Minnesota, including the blister that shelved him for three weeks earlier this season. Other than that, Sanchez has held the Twins in check, limiting them to a .596 OPS and 2.42 ERA in eight career starts. Deduno has been able to limit the big bats in the Tigers' lineup, but the supporting cast -- Kinsler, Austin Jackson, and Don Kelly, in particular -- have been able to do some damage.
Sanchez's run of dominance continues ... as does the offense's lack of run support.