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Tigers vs. White Sox Preview: Oh hey it’s one of those random day games you hate

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The Tigers open a series against the White Sox with a home matinee.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve waged wars against day games in the past here at Bless You Boys. It’s a divisive topic, but our staff generally agrees that night games are the superior time to play baseball. You don’t have to miss the game while at work, it provides a nice activity (or background noise) to an otherwise forgettable evening, and — here’s what we like — it’s a lot easier to write about.

Good news for those who like afternoon baseball, though: it’s not going anywhere. The Tigers will kick off their series against the White Sox with one of those weird Thursday afternoon games at Comerica Park. It doesn’t really make sense for anyone involved — the White Sox are just coming into town and the Tigers played a night game on Wednesday — but it’s supposedly one of those traditions that doesn’t come with the #branding of the Chicago Cubs’ afternoon games on Fridays.

Enough ranting, though. This series will be an important one for both clubs, as they are separated by just 3 12 games in the AL Central standings. Their place in the division doesn’t matter, of course, as all eyes will be on where they finish among other teams in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.

This situation isn’t ideal, of course, but it turns games like these into a win-win for Tigers fans. Either the Tigers win and people are happy, or they lose and move closer to a top pick in next year’s draft.

The only downside? The game starts at 1 p.m.

Chicago White Sox (48-78) at Detroit Tigers (52-75)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP James Shields (5-14, 4.39 ERA) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (7-11, 4.27 ERA)

Game 128 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Shields 164.0 18.2 8.9 4.66 1.4
Boyd 135.0 21.8 7.4 4.02 2.3

James Shields has thrown 164 innings for the White Sox this season, and it somehow feels like he hasn’t faced the Tigers at all. The internet tells me that he has made three starts against Detroit this year, but they have been some largely forgettable innings. Shields has given up three runs in each of those three starts while averaging six innings per game, a vanilla quality start. The White Sox have lost all three games, the most notable a wild 9-7 finish way back in early April.

Like his starts against the Tigers, Shields’ numbers throughout 2018 are pretty bland. His strikeout and walk rates are a tick below league average, but don’t stand out in any particular way. He has lowered his home run rate, which also sits near the league average. He has worked at least six innings in 21 of his 26 starts, but limited opponents to one run or fewer just six times. Other than his 14 losses — in part due to a lack of run support provided by his offense — there isn’t much to write home about here.

Key matchup: Both starters vs. run support

While another Tigers starter “leads” the American League in lack of run support, Matthew Boyd isn’t far behind. The Tigers have scored just 3.7 runs per game in support of Boyd, who has endured his fair share of low-scoring losses. Not far behind him on that list is Shields, who has received an even four runs per game. Boyd’s run support has been a little better at Comerica Park, but he still has a pair of 1-0 home losses on his résumé this season.

Prediction

Boyd has another strong outing and the Tigers take game one.

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