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Game 103 Preview: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles

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Still in search of his first career win, Buck Farmer gets the start tonight against Wei-Yin Chen of the Orioles.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers (50-52) at Baltimore Orioles (51-50)

Time/Place: 7:05 p.m., Orioles Park at Camden Yards

SB Nation blog: Camden Chat

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Buck Farmer (0-2, 9.22 ERA) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-6, 2.88 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Farmer 2 13.2 7.90 2.63 2.63 1.90 6.22 3.86 -0.2
Chen 19 121.2 7.10 1.92 1.41 1.13 4.27 3.85 1.2

The Orioles have been masters at getting their pitchers to outpeform their peripheral statistics in recent years. They had the best ERA-FIP differential in baseball last year, at -0.53 for the entire staff.  Last night's starter, Miguel Gonzalez, had an ERA 1.67 runs below his FIP, while Chris Tillman and Bud Norris were both over a half run better than expected. This year, lefthander Wei-Yin Chen leads the way. His 4.27 FIP is slightly higher than in recent years thanks to an elevated home run rate, but he is enjoying the best ERA of his career (2.88) in 121 2/3 innings.

Like Gonzalez and Tillman, Chen induces a very high percentage of fly balls. After allowing 29 home runs in his rookie season, Chen has curtailed the homer issues for the most part. However, they have returned with a vengeance, as Chen has already given up 19 home runs in just 19 starts. Like usual, most of the homers are coming off of his fastball, a low-90s pitch that gets punished when he leaves it over the plate. Righties hit for most of the power against Chen, but a solid changeup and low walk rate has helped him limit them to a .292 on-base percentage this season.

Buck Farmer has also watched his fastball get tagged quite a bit in his three major league appearances this season. Opponents are hitting .452 with an .871 slugging average off of his four-seamer this year, and .423 in seven career MLB appearances. His offspeed stuff is generating plenty of swings and misses, although that is likely because opponents are so geared up for the fastball. Farmer was roughed up in one of his two starts since last appearing for the Tigers, allowing six runs without getting through the first inning. He bounced back in his last outing, allowing three runs in six innings.

Tigers hitter to fear: Ian Kinsler (.250/.308/.417 in 13 plate appearances)
Tigers hitter to fail: Yoenis Cespedes (.214/.214/.214 in 14 plate appearances)

In two career starts against the Tigers, Chen has fared quite well, holding them to a .220 batting average and .289 on-base percentage. Somehow, this has translated into a 4.92 ERA, but Chen is 1-0 with the O's winning both matchups. Yoenis Cespedes and Ian Kinsler are the only Tigers that have faced Chen more than five times, and neither is hitting particularly well. Kinsler has two doubles, but has only reached base four times in 13 plate appearances, while Cespedes is 3-for-14.

Outlook

It will be interesting to see what the Tigers' lineup looks like for tonight's game. Yoenis Cespedes is the only Tigers bat that has drawn much interest from teams buying at the deadline, but we're still not sure how deep the "rebooting" process goes. I doubt a team blows the Tigers away with an offer for someone like Ian Kinsler, but we may also see lefty-killer Rajai Davis on the move at some point this afternoon. Thursday's trades were a huge step in the right direction for the overall health of the franchise, but the impending trade deadline and a taxed bullpen could make things difficult for the 25-man roster this evening. Another short outing from Farmer wouldn't help either.

Prediction

The shorthanded bullpen catches up to the Tigers and Baltimore wins a blowout.

★★★

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