Detroit Tigers (53–40) at Cleveland Indians (49–47)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Let's Go Tribe
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (11–3, 3.35 ERA) vs. RHP Zach McAllister (3–5, 5.63 ERA)
Zach McAllister will be promoted from Triple-A to start the second game of the doubleheader. He put together a decent 2013 season going 9–9 with a 3.75 ERA, but he has been unable to match that success this year and has spent time on the disabled list with a lower back strain earlier in the season. He pitched well in his last start, allowing three earned runs through seven innings against the Chicago White Sox. This will be his third meeting with the Tigers this year, getting bombed in his last outing. On May 21 McAllister lasted only two innings, giving up four earned runs on two walks and five hits. The opposing pitcher in that contest was Max Scherzer, who delivered one of his worst pitching performances of the year.
Scherzer is building on his 2013 Cy Young campaign, putting together another outstanding season. Scherzer has faced the Indians on two other occasions this year, putting together polar opposite pitching performances. That May 21 start against Zach McAllister saw Scherzer give up seven earned runs, raising his ERA from 1.83 to 2.59 that day. On June 22 Scherzer made up for it, surrendering only one earned run through six. Scherzer needs to stay away from Michael Brantley and Nick Swisher if he is going to find success. Swisher has a .321 batting average against Scherzer and Brantley is 12-for-38 with eight extra base hits and nine RBIs.
Hitter to fear: Michael Brantley (.316/.349/.605 in 43 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Carlos Santana (.088/.225/.118 in 40 plate appearances)
The surging Indians have won 10 of their last 14 games, and they are no stranger to making late-season pushes for the division. Traditionally a team that struggles in Detroit, Cleveland has only won 14 of their last 49 games at Comerica Park.
Scherzer will more than likely be given the task of stopping the Indians from taking the four-game series. The bullpen should be well-rested coming out of the All-Star break, but after a rough Friday night and the prospect of Drew VerHagen not pitching late into game one, Max Scherzer will need to be Max Scherzer-like and deliver a solid seven innings.
Scherzer pitches a complete game and everyone sleeps well knowing that Drew VerHagen's game one start was just a showcase to land a bullpen arm.