Fresh off of three winning series against contenders for the Wild Card in Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and Boston, the Orioles will head to Detroit to face a playoff-bound team. The Tigers have already clinched their division, but they are neck and neck with Texas in determining who will get to face Boston in the ALDS round of the playoffs. Those two teams entered today's play with the same record. The team with the better record will face Boston while holding the home field advantage and the team with the lesser record will face New York without the home field advantage. So it's fair to say that the Tigers still have something to play for in the last week of the season, because really, right now anybody should want to play Boston in the first round.
The exception to the previous paragraph is if Boston collapses so completely that Anaheim slips into the Wild Card spot in the AL. They are behind by 2.5 games with seven to play, but with the way Boston's looked lately, this isn't impossible. Then, none of that other stuff matters, because Texas can't play LAAAOCCAUSAESMWU in the opening round, and New York would play Los Angeles and Texas and Detroit would play one another. Did you get all that?
However, the Tigers aren't playing tonight's game like a team that's trying to squeeze out every last win. Tonight, they're sending out Jacob Turner, their first-round pick with the 9th selection in the 2009 draft. Hey, we picked before them. Who did we take? Oh, dang, right. Turner will be making his third-ever big league start. He has had one decent start against Los Angeles and one bad one against Kansas City. Turner was an AA All-Star. He is 20 years old.
Turner signed a major-league contract worth $5.5 million, which is about three million dollars more than the O's paid their draft pick that year. Do you want to hear something funny? In 2009, the O's paid Jay Gibbons $6.2 million. I guess that wasn't very funny after all. Sorry.
Turner is a right-handed pitcher. He wasn't exactly blowing away the minor leagues as far as his ERA, putting up respectable low-3 numbers. He has carried a K/BB rate of about 3 through the levels, which is pretty good, and perhaps a better predictor of success.
Just as one last indication that maybe the Tigers aren't taking this game super seriously, their starting catcher tonight is Omir Santos. Yes, that Omir Santos. They are also playing Magglio Ordonez, Delmon Young and Brandon Inge. All of these guys suck at hitting in the year 2011.
That's good news for Zach Britton, who's looking to close out with a strong finish. He is already the season's sole survivor of the cavalry, but the better he looks, the better the future looks. It may not mean anything since we've already established the lineup he'll be facing mostly sucks (although he still has to go up against the likes of Miguel Cabrera), but hey, confidence boosters are worth something too.
|Orioles (Z. Britton - L) @ Tigers (J. Turner - R)|