Los Angeles Angels (63-61) at Detroit Tigers (59-65)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Halos Heaven
Pitching Matchup: RHP Jered Weaver (5-9, 4.34 ERA) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (11-7, 4.52 ERA)
Jered Weaver is no longer the pitcher he once was, and the Angels have done little to help their former ace this season. The Halos offense, surprisingly one of the more anemic outfits in the American League, has scored four runs or fewer in 14 of Weaver's 18 starts this season. This is a major reason why the Angels are just 8-10 when he takes the mound, and probably should be even worse. Weaver has bailed his offense out a few times this season, including in his last start, when he tossed 6-1/3 shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.
As for his arsenal, it's basically a grab bag at this point. Weaver's fastball has topped out at 89 miles per hour this season and is averaging just 84.9 miles per hour. He throws both a four- and two-seamer, along with a slider, curveball, and changeup. He throws all of his pitches at least 10 percent of the time, and four of the five (the slider excluded) at least 19 percent of the time. Weaver's ability to mix pitches and generate a high volume of fly balls in the spacious Angels Stadium outfield is keeping his numbers respectable. That home run rate has been rising quickly over the past couple seasons, though.
Alfredo Simon put together his best outing of the season five days ago, blanking the Texas Rangers with just one hit allowed in a 4-0 Tigers victory. He threw 72 of his 116 pitches for strikes, including 19 of 31 first-pitch strikes. The outing was a major deviation from the norm for Simon, who had allowed an 8.19 ERA in his previous 10 starts. He continued to use his splitter heavily, but an increased curveball usage helped him hold the Rangers' righties hitless in 14 plate appearances.
Tigers hitter to fear: Miguel Cabrera (.308/.400/.577 in 30 plate appearances)
Tigers hitter to fail: Ian Kinsler (.227/.277/.386 in 94 plate appearances)
Weaver and the Tigers have had some memorable matchups over the years -- OK, maybe just one -- and the battle seems to be a draw thus far. Weaver has a career 4.52 ERA in 12 starts against Detroit, but has gotten the last laugh more often with a 5-4 record. He has held them to a .752 OPS, and is limiting current Tigers hitters to a .244 average and .299 on-base percentage. Miguel Cabrera is the only Tigers hitter with an OPS above .720 in more than three plate appearances. On the other side, Mike Trout is 3-for-4 against Alfredo Simon.
I'm seriously starting to wonder if the Tigers did something to anger the baseball gods. There is little else that could explain the wrath handed down upon them in the sixth inning of Monday's dumpster fire of a game, when the Tigers' pitching staff combined to allow 10 runs (!) before recording three outs. Bloops, blasts, and everything in between were in order for a scoring-starved Reds lineup, and the Tigers were forced to use five pitchers, including young righthander Guido Knudson for two innings.
This is what it has come to, though. The Tigers' starting rotation, already lacking in talent, has been devastated by injuries. We saw the lineup -- Randy Wolf, Matt Boyd, and Buck Farmer pitching on consecutive days -- and correctly predicted a taxed bullpen would be the result. Here's hoping Alfredo Simon has another efficient outing in his bag of tricks.
Alfredo Simon doesn't throw a complete game.
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