Tigers, White Sox line up rotations for weekend
Can’t get to the Justin Verlander-Chris Sale matchup next Sunday night at Comerica Park? Ok. How does a Max Scherzer showdown with Francisco Liriano strike you? Better yet, how important does Doug Fister’s healthy return Friday night look now with Jake Peavy lined up to face the Tigers that evening?
Barring a setback for Fister, the pitching matchups appear to be set for next weekend’s Tigers-White Sox clash at Comerica Park, and they’re all pretty good. With Gavin Floyd dealing with an ailing elbow, reports out of Baltimore say the White Sox shuffled their rotation to get Peavy (who was originally slated to pitch Wednesday) into the mix.
Peavy has two quality starts, a so-so outing and a stinker in four meetings with the Tigers so far this season. He had the misfortune of matching up opposite Verlander at Comerica Park in July, giving him no chance to recover from a three-run third inning despite pitching into the eighth. He has five quality starts in six outings since.
The Tigers have only seen Liriano in relief this year. Take away two disastrous starts and his numbers are nasty since the All-Star break. He also happens to be a hard-throwing left-hander, like Sale. The Tigers have roughed up Sale in two starts this season, accounting for half of his four losses on the year, but their recent struggles against left-handed pitching are well-documented.
With Liriano and Sale starting back-to-back, the Tigers could have a very interesting decision to make once rosters expand on Saturday. Their lineup against left-handed starters the past few weeks have included a left-handed hitting outfielder (usually Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch) because they don’t have enough impact right-handed bats to throw into the lineup. They have Ryan Raburn hitting well through five games on rehab at Triple-A Toledo (8-for-22, 3 HR, nine RBIs), and they have two right-handed hitting prospects at Double-A Erie in Nick Castellanos (who’s still hitting lefties well despite an August downturn) and Avisail Garcia.
Are the Tigers setting up Raburn for a weekend return and a test with two stingy lefties? Would they dare call up one of their top prospects to make his Major League debut against Liriano or Sale?
Or, would Jim Leyland throw caution to the wind and bat Dirks or Boesch against Liriano and Sale anyway? Dirks is 0-for-2 against each of them. Boesch is 5-for-11 with a double and four RBIs off Liriano, mainly from 2010, and hit a three-run homer off Sale in July.