Full disclosure: this is the first preview I've ever written.
The Detroit Tigers will try to win the rubber match of their three-game series against the Texas Rangers today under the sun, instead of under the lights. Michael Fulmer goes for the tenth win of his rookie season against the bespectacled A.J. Griffin.
Fulmer, who was looking pretty invincible for a stretch, has been rather, shall we say, "vincible" of late. Since his ten-strikeout start against the Rays on July 1, his numbers have ticked upwards a tiny bit, with a 2.90 ERA in those six starts. On the other hand, his OPS against in those starts was still under .700, so he's still doing an extremely respectable job... then again, anything would look relatively lousy compared with amazing run he went on from May 21 through July 1, with corresponding numbers of 0.53/.431. (Wow.)
Detroit Tigers (62-54) at Texas Rangers (69-49)
Time/Place: 3:05pm EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington
SB Nation blog: Lone Star Ball
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Michael Fulmer (9-3, 2.43 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (5-1, 4.38 ERA)
Griffin has a particular talent for giving up the longball; in 2013, his previous full season in the major leagues, he led the AL in giving up 36 dingers, for a pace of 1.6 HR/9IP. This year, what's his HR/9 pace? Well, gentle reader, it's exactly the same. The last time he went a start and didn't give up a home run was on May 7, against... you guessed it, the Tigers. But, in Griffin's defence, he only went 2 2/3 innings that day, tapping-out with shoulder stiffness; Texas won the game, with Anthony Gose striking out to end it. I won't comment any more on that.
Expect to dip into the Texas bullpen early; Griffin has only gotten past the sixth inning once this year, and that was in late April. These short starts haven't been particularly good, either; since July 5, in seven starts, not only has he not reached the end of the sixth in any of them, but his ERA is 6.17 with an OPS against of .933, essentially turning every hitter into J.D. Martinez.
Hitter to fear: n/a
Hitter to fail: n/a
The above aren't blank because I didn't feel like doing the research; it's because the only hitter to face Fulmer in the Rangers' starting lineup is Carlos Beltran, who's 0-for-3 against him, with two whiffs to show for it. Will this "blank slate" situation favour Fulmer, or the Rangers? Tune in to find out!
The revamped Texas lineup looked stellar on Friday night, but their bats were befuddled against Matt Boyd on Saturday night. On the season, the Rangers' OPS against lefties is .760 and is .752 against righties; not much difference there. Perhaps all of this comes down to how well Fulmer pitches in front of a bunch of friends and family, who will be making the trip down from Oklahoma City.
Griffin's gaffes and gopher-balls grant an early exit, coupled with Fulmer's familial fortitude powering his pitching prowess, tip the tilt the Tigers' way. Also: dingerz.