Chicago White Sox (63-67) at Detroit Tigers (70-61)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Anthony Ranaudo (1-1, 9.61 ERA) vs. LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63 ERA)
The Boston Red Sox selected right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo with the 39th pick of the 2010 MLB draft. Ranaudo, an LSU product, made his way through their farm system in short order. He posted solid numbers in parts of two seasons at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013 and 2014, and earned some time at the major league level toward the end of 2014. He was eventually moved to the Texas Rangers and then acquired by the White Sox this season. While only 26, he is a long way off from some of the players selected around him in that same draft; NL Cy Young candidate Noah Syndergaard was taken one pick before Ranaudo.
Ranaudo doesn’t have the same high octane stuff Syndergaard does (does anyone?). Ranaudo’s fastball sits around 91-92 miles per hour on the radar gun, and only gets as high as 94 mph. his primary off-speed pitch is a curveball, which he throws nearly 23 percent of the time. He also features a changeup against left-handed hitters around 12 percent of the time, but it has not been very effective in limited MLB action this season. His minor league splits — most of which came as a starter for the Charlotte Knights, Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate — are relatively even for right and left-handed hitters.
The major league numbers haven’t been pretty, though. He has been rocked in his last two starts, allowing 11 runs on 13 hits in 9 1⁄3 innings. He has walked more batters than he struck out, though five of his 15 walks this season came in an abysmal relief outing for the Rangers back on May 10. Still, his 9:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a White Sox pitcher isn’t pretty, and he has given up five home runs to boot. That home run rate will decline as time goes on — his xFIP is three full runs lower than his ERA right now — but his performance thus far hasn’t looked promising.
Hitter to fear: Jose Abreu (.333/.415/.644 in last 13 games)
Hitter to fail: Todd Frazier (.245/.283/.347 in last 13 games)
The White Sox offense has struggled to score runs at times this season, but their fans have to be encouraged by the re-emergence of Jose Abreu. The 29-year-old slugger has not been as effective this season as in years past, but he has looked like his old self lately. Since the All-Star break, Abreu is hitting a robust .318/.379/.516 with seven home runs and 21 RBI. While White Sox fans might like to see the counting stats trend upward as well, the lack of RBI falls more on his teammates than Abreu himself.
The Tigers have been a bit fortunate to keep pace with the rest of the pack in the AL playoff hunt in August, but they have a chance to seize control of the race over the next two weeks. Road series with the White Sox and Kansas City Royals loom, so games like this against beatable competition become even more important. Daniel Norris has been solid since coming off the DL, but the Tigers would do well to give him plenty of run support in this game, especially with current bullpen ace Alex Wilson likely out of commission after Monday’s heavy workload.
Norris picks up his third win of the season and the Tigers move into a tie for the second AL Wild Card spot.
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