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Game 146 Preview: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers

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Mike Pelfrey makes his long-awaited return to the mound on Thursday.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Do you like pitching? No? Good. Then you have probably really enjoyed this series. Luminaries such as Anibal Sanchez, Tyler Duffey and Kyle Gibson have taken the ball in this series between the Tigers and Twins. The series concludes today with a marquee matchup: Mike Pelfrey and Hector Santiago.

Pelfrey has a 10.0 percent strikeout rate this season, which is seriously bad. We’re talking “2011 Brad Penny” bad. Despite this, Big Pelf has managed to keep his ERA under 5.00 thanks to a 52.7 percent ground ball rate and 17 percent pop-up rate. The Twins may have many baserunners, and there’s not much of a chance of Pelfrey single-handedly winning this game, but he probably won’t tank the Tigers either.

And when you are facing Hector Santiago, not tanking a team’s chances is usually enough.

Minnesota Twins (54-92) at Detroit Tigers (78-67)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Hector Santiago (11-8, 4.75 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (4-9, 4.76 ERA)

Hector Santiago clearly does not like Minnesota. He has a 6.34 ERA and 6.22 FIP since donning the Twins’ uniform after a last-minute trade deadline deal. That’s what happens to you when you give up a home run every four innings — this whole pitching gig gets really hard. Perhaps the biggest red flag in Santiago’s portfolio? The Tigers put up six runs against him earlier this season in Anaheim. Given Detroit’s prowess in the Southern California, this is essentially like giving up 15 runs to any other team.

Lest we forget an #LOLTwins moment, Santiago is the guy that Minnesota agreed to take off the Angels’ hands in exchange for Alex Meyer and Ricky Nolasco’s hilarious contract. It may have been one of the strangest trades in deadline history, but also the funniest.

Hitter to fear: Brian Dozier (you don’t need stats to back this one up)
Hitter to fail: Max Kepler (.200/.220/.250 in September)

This just in: Mike Pelfrey should never throw a strike to Brian Dozier. He’s going to end up with 50 dingers somehow (juiced baseballs!) and I can’t wait until the Tigers give him a $220 million contract. His hot streak is infinitely more sustainable than Max Kepler’s, as Kepler has fallen off a cliff this month. His wRC+ in the second half is already down to 90.

Outlook

I can, with 100 percent certainty, guarantee that this game will end 1-0 because that is what happens every time you spend 500 words talking up a shootout. That said, this is the kind of series that the Tigers absolutely need to take three of four from, and they have the opportunity on Thursday. Pray that the injury didn’t disturb Pelfrey’s weird semi-effectiveness.

Prediction

Brad Ausmus makes a decision, and people are unhappy about it.