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Game 34 Preview: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles

Mike Pelfrey gets yet another crack at his first win of the season. Tonight, he faces Ubaldo Jimenez and the Baltimore Orioles.

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After a rough outing against the Minnesota Twins, I tried to explain why Mike Pelfrey was actually trending in the right direction. His splitter did look better in that game against the Twins, but that didn't help him much against the Texas Rangers in his last start. Pelfrey allowed back-to-back home runs to open the game, then gave up another bomb later on before departing in the sixth.

Usually, this is the part where I say that Pelfrey should improve because he has a history of limiting home runs. However, I've said similar things this season and ended up with egg on my face. Plus, the Baltimore Orioles are pretty good at this home run thing in a park that is pretty good about handing out those home run things to hitters of all shapes and sizes. I did some #scouting at a game last weekend and they hit six home runs. They're terrifying.

But hey, maybe the Tigers can outdinger the Orioles. Steven Moya is here, and his specialty (other than striking out) is hitting home runs. Same with just about every other hitter in our lineup, including new home run king Jose Iglesias. This should be fun, right?

Detroit Tigers (15-18) at Baltimore Orioles (20-12)

Time/Place: 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards
SB Nation blog: Camden Chat
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TVTigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-4, 6.23 ERA) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (2-3, 4.54 ERA)

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pelfrey 30.1 10.5 10.5 6.16 -0.3
Jimenez 35.2 22.2 10.1 4.09 0.4

Based on his previous pattern of dominating baseball every third season, we should be in line for another year where everything clicks for Ubaldo Jimenez. He finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2010 after compiling a 19-8 record and 2.88 ERA while pitching for the Rockies -- while pitching for the Rockies -- and went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA for the Cleveland Indians in 2013. However, things have not followed suit this season; through six starts, Jimenez has a 4.54 ERA and 4.09 FIP.

And that's it, really. Jimenez is the same pitcher that he has always been: rather wild, but with enough raw stuff and deception in his wonky delivery to produce decent results with the occasional gem of a start mixed in. His swinging strike and strikeout rates are nearly identical to last season, while his walk rate has increased slightly. Opponents are putting the ball on the ground more often than in previous seasons, but there has not been an appreciable change to his pitch usage that explains this phenomenon. He is throwing his splitter a bit more often with two strikes, I guess?

So expect him to throw eight shutout innings tonight.

Hitter to fear: Mark Trumbo (.500/.545/.800 in 11 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Pedro Alvarez (.100/.250/.200 in 12 plate appearances)

The good news is that Mike Pelfrey has only allowed one home run in 72 combined plate appearances for the current Orioles roster. Mark Trumbo, lead dingermonster for this year's Orioles, hit that home run back in 2011, which is forever in baseball years.

The bad news? Current Orioles are hitting .309 against Pelfrey in those 72 plate appearances. Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Adam Jones join Trumbo as Orioles with more than two hits against Pelfrey, with Davis netting a pair of doubles. Only something called a Paul Janish has actually struggled against Pelfrey, going 0-for-4.

Outlook

Please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win please just win

Prediction

Pelfrey struggles again and the Tigers fall four games under .500.

★★★

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