Chicago White Sox (29-27) at Detroit Tigers (27-28)
Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Jose Quintana (5-5, 2.13 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (4-5, 4.11 ERA)
For the past four-plus seasons, Jose Quintana has been one of the most underrated starting pitchers in baseball. He has logged 200 innings in each of the past three years, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved dramatically each season. Were he not a divisional rival, I'd call his career 38-39 record a crime against humanity. But, White Sox.
This season, we're seeing the very best Quintana has to offer. He owns a 2.13 ERA and 2.29 FIP through 11 starts, both of which lead the American League. He has already been worth 2.7 fWAR, behind only Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard. Only Josh Tomlin and Ricky Nolasco have a higher strikeout-to-walk rate among qualified AL pitchers, and Quintana has the lowest home run rate in baseball.
Don't tell that to the Tigers, though. They have had Quintana's number throughout his career, batting an impressive .304 with a .342 on-base percentage against him in 13 meetings. A meager .122 ISO has been his saving grace, however, and he has limited the damage to a 4.02 ERA. With the help of Yoenis Cespedes, the Tigers pounded Quintana to the tune of 18 runs on 42 hits in 29 innings, or a 1.66 WHIP. The current roster has fared even better, with a .344 batting average and .377 on-base percentage.
Hitter to fear: Jose Abreu (.381/.435/.714 in 23 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Dioner Navarro (.200/.273/.300 in 11 plate appearances)
For a pitcher who has spent 12 seasons in the same division as the White Sox, Verlander has faced a surprisingly low number of players on their current roster. Only four players have faced the 33-year-old righthander more than five times, and a fair number of potential starters have never matched up against Verlander. Sure, two of those players are former teammates in Austin Jackson and Alex Avila, but the lack of familiarity is still a bit jarring.
Unfortunately, those who have seen Verlander before have done quite well. Jose Abreu has two home runs and a 1.149 OPS in 23 plate appearances, while Adam Eaton isn't far behind with an .887 OPS. Brett Lawrie also has a home run off Verlander, his lone hit in three plate appearances.
If Quintana can somehow shake his prior history against the Tigers, he should be in good shape this afternoon. The Tigers have struggled against left-handed pitching this year, and Quintana is limiting righthanders to a .632 OPS this season. He has maintained relatively even splits throughout his career, though righties are slightly better across the board. He will still need some help from the White Sox offense, though. With the way Verlander has bulldozed weak offensive outfits lately -- as a team, Chicago has an 88 wRC+ -- that doesn't seem likely.
Of course, Mike Pelfrey just beat Chris Sale, so...
The Tigers bullpen coughs up a chance for a sweep.
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