Locke's aggressive reboot has made him a more dependable pitcher. His command has been off a bit in his last couple of games; we'll see gets back to challenging guys and filling up the edges with strikes again. He won his last outing against the Marlins, and went seven frames in a 7-3 victory.
Locke has faced the Tigers once, tossing 5-1/3 scoreless frames against Motown in an eventual 1-0 win at PNC Park last year. He's been tough against the AL overall, going 3-1 with a 1.87 ERA in five career interleague starts.
Verlander, 31, is having a rough time for a former Cy Young guy, but is showing signs of rounding into form since the All-Star break and especially in his last couple of starts. But he hasn't punched out more than five guys in a game since June and his whip is still a bit up there at 1.395.
He's had great success against the Bucs, going 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in four starts with 35 K in 32 IP. Verlander has also won 14 straight regular-season decisions against NL teams, so he's got history very much on his side.
The lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Starling Marte CF, Travis Snider LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Jayson Nix 2B and Locke P. Starling's been squaring up lately, and been rewarded by a move to the five spot. Still no Neil or Cutch, nor word on their disposition.
The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
A key to the game: get into the Detroit bullpen as soon as possible. The Tigers lost in 19 innings yesterday and used seven pitchers, including starter Rick Porcello. This is the first of a four game home-and-home series, so wearing down the Motown pitching early in the set would be a boon. Another key: bring your umbrella if you're going to the ol' ballyard. There's supposed to be off-and-on showers tonight.
- Hot El Coffee: Gregory Polanco has hit safely in three of his last four games, going 7-for-16 (.438) with three doubles, a home run and seven RBI.
- The Bucs have gone 6-7 against the AL so far this season.
- Larcenists, beware: The 37 caught stealings recorded by Pittsburgh’s pitchers and catchers this season rank second in MLB to only the Tigers, who have caught 38 wanna-bes.
- The Tigers are a strong road team with a 33-25 slate on the season. The Pirates are 37-24 at home.
- Jake Seiner of MiLB spotlighted Gerrit Cole's performance for Indy yesterday; it was a good one. John Bauernfeind of the Indians also posted a Cole Train report.
- Gabe Costa of CBS-NY looks at and presents the stats of the Derek Jeter-Honus Wagner debate.