Chicago White Sox (4-6) at Detroit Tigers (9-2)
Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: LHP Jose Quintana (1-0, 4.09 ERA) vs. RHP Shane Greene (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
You could make an argument that the White Sox didn't start their best available pitcher on Opening Day. While Jeff Samardzija was coming off an All-Star season and had a 2.99 ERA in 219 2/3 innings last year, lefthander Jose Quintana had the lower FIP (2.81 to 3.20) and will be in a White Sox uniform for longer. Quintana also has the lower ERA and, like Samarzija, is coming off back-to-back 200-inning seasons. Despite a 3.42 ERA and 3.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the last two seasons, Quintana's win-loss record is just 18-18. He received just 3.8 runs per game from his offense last season, the 11th-lowest total in the American League.
The 2015 season got off to a rocky start, as Quintana gave up five runs on nine hits in five innings in his first start of the year. He also hit two batters, equaling his total from the entire 2014 season. He looked more like his usual self in his next outing, holding the Cleveland Indians to one run on just three hits in six innings.
Quintana relies primarily on a fastball, cutter, and changeup, and is able to get both right and left-handed hitters out. He actually demonstrated a slight reverse split last season, holding righties to a .253 batting average and .299 on-base percentage. He induces more ground balls than fly balls, but his batted ball distribution sits close to the league average in both categories.
Shane Greene has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball through the first two weeks of the season. After a pair of eight-inning outings with zero earned runs allowed, Greene leads the league with a 0.50 WHIP and a 1.9 percent walk rate. We all know about his ERA, but his 2.18 FIP ranks eighth in the league. That said, it's far too early to read into Greene's excellent start -- remember, Robbie Ray also looked good after two outings. Greene only has eight strikeouts in 16 innings, and his .156 BABIP probably won't even make it through today's outing. He faced the White Sox once last season and allowed three runs on nine hits in five innings.
Tigers hitter to fear: Rajai Davis (.385/.407/.615 in 27 plate appearances)
Tigers hitter to fail: Nick Castellanos (.273/.273/.273 in 11 plate appearances)
Quintana has had the Tigers' number since he arrived in the majors. He has a 4-1 record with a 3.14 ERA and 4.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight starts against the Tigers. They have collected plenty of hits, and the current roster has a career .317 average against him, but Quintana has limited walks and kept the Tigers in the ballpark. Only three of the 214 Tigers batters Quintana has ever faced have homered. On the bright side, all three of those home runs have come at Comerica Park, and Yoenis Cespedes has two homers of his own in six plate appearances against Quintana.
After an explosive start to the season, the Tigers offense has gone quiet lately. They have scored just 12 runs in their last five games, but have won three of those games thanks to some incredible starting pitching. Speaking of incredible pitching, part of the offensive lull is due to the gauntlet of starters the Tigers have faced: Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Samardzija, and Chris Sale are all formidable opponents. It doesn't get any easier today with Quintana on the mound, but with the way Greene has looked in his first two starts, they may only need a few runs.
Greene makes an early lead stand up and the Tigers get back into the win column.
- Rajai Davis, CF
- Ian Kinsler, 2B
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Victor Martinez, DH
- J.D. Martinez, RF
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- James McCann, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS
White Sox lineup:
- Adam Eaton, CF
- Melky Cabrera, LF
- Jose Abreu, 1B
- Adam LaRoche, DH
- Avisail Garcia, RF
- Conor Gillaspie, 3B
- Alexei Ramirez, SS
- Tyler Flowers, C
- Micah Johnson, 2B
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