Detroit Tigers (59-64) at Cincinnati Reds (51-71)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park
SB Nation blog: Red Reporter
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV (Free Game of the Day), Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Buck Farmer (0-2, 8.39 ERA) vs. RHP Keyvius Sampson (2-2, 4.43 ERA)
Keyvius Sampson is a 24-year-old rookie from Ocala, Florida who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 4th round of the 2009 draft. He pitched well in the lower minors, striking out over 10 batters per nine innings in A-ball, but struggled in an aggressive promotion to Double-A in 2012. His numbers improved when he repeated the level in 2013, but a pair of rough seasons at Triple-A led the Padres to designate him for assignment in late December 2014. The Reds claimed the unproven righty, who ranked among the Padres' top 10 prospects before the 2014 season.
Sampson dominated Double-A again this year, but command issues have led to a 5.08 ERA in eight appearances for Triple-A Louisville. He has walked 46 batters in 82 2/3 combined minor league innings between the two levels, and has another nine walks in 20 1/3 innings at the major league level. Sampson sports a fastball that averages 93 miles per hour, which he throws two-thirds of the time. His curveball is his go-to pitch when he gets ahead in the count, and he also has a slider and changeup that he uses sparingly. He has strikeout potential -- he fanned over a batter per inning in 91 2/3 frames at Triple-A El Paso last season -- but command issues may ultimately force him to the bullpen.
It's hard to find a bright spot in Buck Farmer's major league numbers this season. He has an 8.39 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 1.5, and he has given up six home runs in 24 2/3 innings. He has been bad. However, at 24 years old, it's possible that Farmer just needs more time to develop. He's two years removed from being drafted out of Georgia Tech, and one year removed from spending most of the season at Single-A West Michigan. His peers from that 2014 Whitecaps rotation are still in the lower minors, and he has put up some respectable numbers (including a 3.29 FIP) at Triple-A Toledo this season. Farmer may not be ready for major league duty, but we shouldn't write him off yet, even if tonight's game ends poorly.
Miguel Cabrera wRC+ watch: 193
In lieu of our daily pitcher-batter matchups (of which there are none for this game), we bring you a semi-regular look at how close Miguel Cabrera is to the hallowed 200 wRC+ plateau. Over the weekend, Nolan pointed out that only three players not named Barry Bonds have eclipsed this threshold since 1970. Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a double on Sunday, but this was not enough to improve his gaudy numbers. If you're hell-bent on some idle speculation, Cabrera is a career .345/.420/.517 hitter against Reds pitching.
When the Tigers faced the Reds in mid-June, they were already well out of the NL Central race, but were a decent (if improbable) run away from jumping back into wild card contention. As expected, however, they scuffled along through the All-Star break, and finished July nine games under .500. August has been a disaster, with the Reds winning just five of their 21 games. They have scored 66 runs this month, or 3.14 per game. They are currently on a nine-game losing streak. If there's a team for Farmer to take advantage of -- even in a bandbox like Great American Ball Park -- the Reds are it.
It isn't pretty, but Buck Farmer notches his first career win.
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