Los Angeles Dodgers (51-40) at Detroit Tigers (48-37)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: True Blue LA
Pitching Matchup: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4, 3.08 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (7-7, 4.71 ERA)
The Dodgers come to Detroit with a one game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. Considering the fact that they were 9½ games out on June 8, their resurgence is pretty remarkable. They have gone 18–9 since then. This is nothing new for the blue crew. Just a year ago, the Dodgers trailed by 9½ games and went on an amazing 40–8 run starting on June 22, blazing a trail to a division title. The two teams in this series split a pair of games at Dodger Stadium in April. The rematch features two of the clubs that are still among the favorites to meet in the World Series in October.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has lived in the shadows of Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but the Korean left-hander has an impressive track record of his own. Since joining the Dodgers in 2013, Ryu ranks 10th in the National league in ERA, 13th in fWAR, and ninth in FIP. He has been very consistent from one season to the next, and would sit comfortably in a top two slot in any rotation.
Justin Verlander's struggles this season are no secret. The one time Cy Young winner and MVP is having his worst season since 2008. Strikeouts are down, walks are up, velocity isn't what it used to be, and consequently, he sports a 4.71 ERA. Still, Verlander's 1.7 fWAR is equal to that of Ryu and ranks 20th in the American League, partly because he is 10th in innings pitched. After allowing seven runs in consecutive games in June, he has rung up three straight quality starts where he has allowed just 7 runs total.
Hitter to fear: With Carl Crawford (.313/.313/.313 in 32 PA) on the disabled list, no Dodger with 10 or more plate appearances is hitting over .200 against Verlander. We'll go with Dee Gordon, who is hitting .350/.417/.515 with an OPS of .932 and a .408 wOBA over the past 30 days.
Hitter to fail: Adrian Gonzalez is hitting just .143 against Verlander, with one home run in 14 plate appearances.
Offensively, the Dodgers bring the fourth most productive offense in the National League. Only the Colorado Rockies have a higher team batting average. The Tigers rank third in the American League in runs per game and lead the league in team batting average. The Dodgers lead the major leagues in stolen bases, thanks to Dee Gordon's 42 steals.
Hanley Ramirez is batting .338/.457/.523 for an OPS of .980 and a wOBA of .426 in the past month. Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig have posted wOBAs of just .284 and .294 in the same time frame.
For the Tigers, J.D. Martinez leads the way at .383/.406/.755, a 1.151 OPS, and a wOBA of .492 over the past month. Miguel Cabrera is hitting .305/.388/.524/.913 with a wOBA of .392, and Ian Kinsler has a nice round .400 wOBA over that span. Victor Martinez has a .438 wOBA in the past 30 days, but is bothered by a pain in his side, and is questionable to go. Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez have a .351 and .355 wOBA, respectively, since June 8.
The Tigers have more hot hitters right now than the Dodgers do, and the Dodgers are not used to seeing Verlander. The vast expanse of Comerica Park will challenge the Dodgers' defensively challenged outfield. Hey, there's something the two teams have in common!
If it goes to the bullpens, the Dodgers, like most teams, will have the advantage. Kenley Jansen is solid, and the Tigers will be hoping to see Brian Wilson or their old friend, Chris Perez.
Tiger bats get to Ryu while Verlander holds the Dodgers in check. 5–3 Tiger victory.