The Boston Red Sox (27-32) take on the Detroit Tigers (31-25) in a weekend series at Comerica Park. Detroit was able to get a modicum of revenge against the team that knocked them out of last year's postseason by sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway last month.
The Tigers lead the AL Central by 2.5 games over the Chicago White Sox, but currently find themselves in a 5 game losing streak. They still have the AL's third best winning percentage, but given their recent slide, perhaps the Red Sox are catching them at an ideal time.
Despite their status at the top of the division, the Tigers +5 run differential is not indicative of their record and isn't close to the run differentials of other division leaders in the American League. No other team in their division has a positive run differential, which suggests they aren't in immediate danger of coughing up the lead, but the gap between them and Boston (-12) may not be as far off as their records suggest.
- Rubby De La Rosa (1-0, 0.00 ERA) gets his second start of the season. He's coming off an impressive win in his season debut, blanking the Tampa Bay Rays for 7 innings and striking out 8 without a walk. The Tigers lineup presents a much tougher challenge for the young fireball pitcher.
- Stephen Drew is out of the lineup again, presumably because there is a lefty on the mound. Good thing the Sox are paying him a pro-rated $14 million to be a platoon player. While it's true that Drew has never had any success against lefties, it's not like Jonathan Herrera does either. The Sox didn't bring back Drew for his bat anyway, so why not keep him in the lineup?
- Grady Sizemore can't hit left-handed pitching either, but he's still in the lineup. He should ideally be part of a platoon with Jonny Gomes, but due to a lack of outfield options, Boston is forced to put both in the lineup. Daniel Nava hasn't lit lefties well either and Alex Hassan hasn't hit against anyone. This team needs a healthy Shane Victorino back in the worst way.
- While we're on the lefty theme, three of the five players on this Red Sox roster with the highest batting averages against lefties this season are currently injured – Victorino, Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli.
- The first two rounds of the MLB draft were held last night and Soxprospects.com seems very pleased with the value the Red Sox found with their picks. With the 26th pick of the draft, Boston selected infielder Michael Chavis. While he was announced as a shortstop, most scouts seem to think he'll move to another position, but they like his potential to hit for both average and power. Many scouts seemed to think he'd be drafted higher in the first round and think he could be among the best high school hitters in the draft. With the 33rd pick (compensation for losing Jacoby Ellsbury), Boston selected pitcher Michael Kopech, a hard throwing right-hander that can hit 97 on the radar gun. In the second round (67th pick), the Sox took first baseman Sam Travis. He has shown some power and at least a few scouts seem to think he was a great value pick at this spot.
- Drew Smyly (2-4, 4.10 ERA) will be on the mound for Detroit. The young lefty was a dominant weapon out of the bullpen last season (2.37 ERA, 81 strikeouts in 76 innings), but hasn't found the same level of success since joining the rotation. His strikeout rate is down and he's already walked more batters in 48.1 innings than he did all of last season.
- Victor Martinez leads the AL in hitting (.332) and is tied for 8th in the league with 13 HRs. He's always been a high average hitter, so that's no surprise, but the power spike is a bit unexpected. His next HR will tie his total from last season and he's already more than halfway to his career high (25).