I did the Royals preview and the Rays were promptly swept so I took that as a bad sign. To preview the Tigers series, I recruited the biggest Tigers fan I know, Paul Sporer. Sporer and I go back quite a bit and a few months ago, he joined the Baseball Prospectus fantasy baseball staff and is also my co-host on the Towers of Power Fantasy Hour podcast . You can also follow his work at paulsporer.com -- JFC
News you can use about the series below the fold.....
- Max Scherzer is striking out the world (11.4 K/9, an AL-high), but he is toting a 5.12 ERA because he has been remarkably inconsistent. He has five quality starts in his last seven and his 12.4 K/9 and 4.9 K/BB suggest he might finally be figuring it out.
- Though the Rays are the AL’s worst in caught stealing, the Tigers aren’t likely to take full advantage as one of the slower teams in baseball recently. Only Quintin Berry (12) and Austin Jackson (7) have more than three stolen bases. Oddly enough, Miguel Cabrera is guy with the three.
- The Tigers backstops are surging a bit of late as Alex Avila and Gerald Laird with a .293/.383/.354 line, though obviously the power has been notably absent. Avila has been working through some bumps and bruises while Laird just doesn’t have much pop.
- While the Rays have been a bit creaky on defense (compared to recent years) as they battle injuries and give reserves a lot more time than they originally expected, they will feel much better about themselves after seeing the Tigers "defense" at play. The Tigers have an AL- worst .684 defensive efficiency and seemingly give teams a few extra outs per game.
- Rick Porcello has been hurt as much as anyone by the team defense as a sinkerball pitcher, but thankfully his 7.7 K/9 against the Rays for his career (spanning a whopping 20 innings) is his best against any team.
- Whether it is the elite pitching of the Rays or a case of Zobristism in Tropicana Field, Cabrera has a meager .766 OPS with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 111 plate appearances. That’s his worst performance in any current AL park (.732 in the Metrodome).
- The Rays are hitting .224 in June, lowest in the American League and only the Dodgers are worse in baseball. The previous team low for batting average in a month by the team came in May of 2002 (.230).
- The Rays have as many home runs this month (13) as Jose Bautista does.
- It has been 18 days since the Rays last had a multi-homer game.
- The Rays are just 3 of their last 11 against Detroit including dropping 2 of 3 in Detroit earlier this season.
- This series features a battle of charitable teams as Detroit and Tampa Bay are first and second in the AL in giving up earned runs. The Tigers top the AL at 41 and the Rays are right on their heels at 40.
- (personal note) Prepare your ears for Saturday as the game is on Fox and Tim McCarver is working the booth.