Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Detroit Tigers

Fresh off of a sweep of the Minnesota Twins Boston Red Sox, the Rangers head to Boston Detroit in a two-game mini-set four-game battle against the Boston Red Sox Detroit Tigers.

Oct 11, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba (8) slides into second base as Detroit Tigers second baseman Ramon Santiago (39) tries to make the tag during game three of the 2011 ALCS at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

OK, so back-to-back sweeps allowed me to have a little fun with this one. On a serious note, the Tigers should provide a good series. It will be a good measuring stick series between two teams that many, many predictions had making the playoffs. It is also a rematch of last year’s ALCS that, as you know, the Rangers took in six games. The Tigers lead the American League Central with a 9-3 record, one game behind the Rangers for top record in the AL.

Let me go out on a limb, but I don’t think the Rangers will sweep this one.

Probable Starters:

Thursday 6:05 CDT TEX: RHP Yu Darvish (1-0, 4.76 ERA/3.98 FIP) – DET: LHP Adam Wilk (0-1, 3.60 ERA/7.12 FIP)

The biggest problem with Darvish to date has been his control. Most of this is due to Japanese pitchers nibbling at the plate. Darvish’s strike percentage is not among the worst in the league, but his first strike percentage is. If he can start throwing that first pitch strike, it will go a long way into seeing Darvish at his full potential.

Wilk’s first career start has a pretty unique story attached. He was removed after five innings and one run allowed not because of a pitch count, or even walks. He was knocked out because a Prince Fielder foul ball hit him in the dugout. He makes his second career start tonight and don’t expect him to test Detroit’s infamous infield defence – he only has a 29.3 groundball percentage in his short MLB career.

Friday 6:05 CDT TEX: LHP Matt Harrison (2-0, 0.64 ERA/2.77 FIP) – DET: RHP Rick Porcello (1-0, 1.84 ERA/3.12 FIP)

Harrison has been stellar this season and it actually dates back to last season. In his last 7 starts, Harrison is 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Harrison’s success this season has been based on leaving runners on base (over 90% of runners against him have been stranded), groundballs (almost 70%) and working ahead in the count.

Porcello has been a disappointment in his Major League time since his debut as a 20 year old in 2009. The big reason in his success this season has been a low walk rate, almost half of his career average to this point (0.61 BB/9 instead of 2.33) and is also benefiting from an early season high left-on-base percentage. If those two things continue, especially the walk rate, he may be taking that next step.

Saturday 12:05 CDT TEX: RHP Neftali Feliz (1-0, 2.25 ERA/3.83 FIP) – DET: RHP Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.13 ERA/1.81 FIP)

Feliz’s numbers have been eerily similar to his stats last year in terms of BABIP, GB% and HR/FB rate. The only drop has been K/9 ratio which is normal as a starter has to go longer in games than a one-inning reliever and needs to keep his best stuff throughout the game.

Verlander is amazing. There’s no way around it, and he gets stronger as the game goes on. He is coming off of a 130+ pitch start where he went all 9 innings against Kansas City. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the heavy workload on regular rest. But as we know, Verlander is not human so we cannot apply human metrics to him.

Sunday 12:10 CDT TEX: RHP Colby Lewis (2-0, 1.83 ERA/2.31 FIP) – DET: LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.90 ERA/4.12 FIP)

Lewis had an amazing start against Boston. After giving up two early runs, he was able to stay in the game for seven innings and allow the bullpen a much needed night off. The offensive explosion helped to be sure but Lewis is showing ace tendencies, especially with his amazing 0.46 BB/9 innings. If he can keep throwing strikes, he will continue to pitch well.

Smyly is one of the top prospects in the Detroit organization and has allowed one earned run in his two starts in the Majors so far. Making his third start, it will be interesting to see how he performs. He has left 95.9% of runners on base, a number that definitely will come down and affects his ERA. He has been league-average with his swinging strike and first strike percentages which bodes well for the rookie and the Tigers who are missing Doug Fister.

Projected Detroit Lineup

1 CF Austin Jackson
2 RF Brennan Boesch (L)
3 3B Miguel Cabrera
4 1B Prince Fielder (L)
5 LF Delmon Young
6 C Alex Avila (L)
7 SS Jhonny Peralta
8 DH Andy Dirks (L) (vs RHP) // Brandon Inge (vs LHP)
9 2B Ryan Raburn

(source MLBDepthCharts)

Hot/Cold (Last 7 Games)

Prince Fielder (Hot-DET) 10/27 (.370), 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 K
Jhonny Peralta (Hot-DET) 7/22 (.318), 4 2B, 1 RBI
Miguel Cabrera (Cold-DET) 4/28, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 7 K
Ryan Raburn (Cold-DET) 1/21 (.048), 4 BB, 3 K
Josh Hamilton (Hot-TEX) 12/26 (.462), 3 HR, 9 RBI
Mike Napoli (Hot-TEX) 8/23 (.348), 4 HR, 10 RBI
David Murphy (Cold-TEX) 2/14 (.143), 1 RBI, 2 K
Mitch Moreland (Cold-TEX) 0/7

For more information on the Tigers see Fansided’s Tigers page, Motor City Bengals.

Follow Nolan Writin’ on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can follow Jared Book on Twitter here.

Topics: Adam Wilk, Colby Lewis, Detroit Tigers, Drew Smyly, Justin Verlander, Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers, Yu Darvish

Want more from Nolan Writin'?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.