The Detroit Tigers will send Max Scherzer to the mound as they look to capture a series win against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park this afternoon.
Scherzer is still trying to harness the potential the Tigers have seen over the years. The right-hander has had some dominant starts and some miserable ones this season without much consistency.
In his start last Tuesday Scherzer had a down game, going just four innings and allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits and three walks. Luckily the Tigers bats picked him up as Detroit took down the White Sox 10-8 in the game.
Before the rough appearance against Chicago Scherzer had put together back-to- back strong performances with a combined 13 1/3 innings pitched in the starts in which he allowed three runs and struck out 18 batters.
Getting batters to swing and miss has not been the problem for Scherzer, who has 48 punchouts on the season, currently tied for eighth in the American League.
Scherzer has some familiarity with NL competition as he came up with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected him in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft. Against the Pirates Scherzer is 1-1 with a 3.98 ERA in four career appearances, three of which were starts.
After a disastrous start in his last time on the mound, Kevin Correia will look to rebound when he gets the start in the series finale for Pittsburgh.
Correia (1-4) has just one win on the season and is coming off a game in which he lasted just 3 2/3 innings while allowing six runs on eight hits and four walks in a 6-2 loss to Miami.
With the rough outing Correia's ERA ballooned to 4.50, which is the highest it has reached so far through the first two months of the season.
Traditionally a pitcher that is most effective when he can get batters to hit the ball on the ground, Correia has struggled in that regard in his last three starts with 32 ground balls to 35 fly balls during the span. As a reference, in the first four starts of the season Correia induced 48 ground balls and 26 fly balls.
If the Pirates hope to contend at all for a playoff spot this season they will need Correia to round into shape after the right-hander posted double-digit victories in each of the last three seasons.
In his career Correia is 5-5 with a 3.87 ERA in interleague play and in one career start against Detroit has a win after he scattered seven hit and a pair of runs over 6 2/3 innings in an outing last season.
After blanking the Pirates 6-0 in the series opener in which Justin Verlander came two outs from throwing his third career no-hitter, the Tigers had a tougher time in Saturday's contest and ended up on the short end of a 4-3 decision.
A day after going 0-for-3, Andrew McCutchen erupted on Saturday as he launched a pair of two-run home runs in the game to lift the Pirates to the win. McCutchen homered in the first and then again in the fifth for his sixth career multi-home run game.
A.J. Burnett pitched well over six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits to earn his second win of the season and the Pirates bullpen allowed just one unearned run over three innings of work. That effort was capped by a scoreless ninth from closer Joel Hanrahan, who now has nine saves this season.
Drew Smyly struggled to get to the fifth inning but wouldn't be able to finish it out as he allowed seven hits and four runs over 4 2/3 frames. Smyly did strike out six batters but couldn't avoid the hot bat of McCutchen.
Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each had two hits and Fielder also drove in two runs on his seventh home run of the season in the loss for the Tigers, who fell another game behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.
Last season these teams met three times in Pittsburgh, with the Pirates taking two of three in the series.