The Tigers and Diamondbacks are two teams heading in different directions. The Diamondbacks have won six of their last seven, including the first game of the series in Detroit, while the Tigers have now dropped four out of their last five.
The Diamondbacks are repeatedly finding ways to win. They’ve been able to rely on consistent offensive production, particularly from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and outfielder David Peralta. Goldschmidt is 6-for-10 with six RBI’s and Peralta is 6-for-10 with three RBI’s in their past two games. Peralta hit the game-winning home run yesterday off of Tigers’ closer Justin Wilson in the ninth. Tigers’ batters have been much less consistent, although they have put together 14 runs in their past two games. Detroit batters haven’t seen Walker since he was a Mariner in 2015 and Arizona batters haven’t seen Zimmermann since he was a National in 2014. But it may be worth mentioning that Goldschmidt, who is already hot right now, is 4-for-9 in his career with two doubles against Zimmermann.The Starters
Arizona’s Taijuan Walker (4-3 3.46 ERA) returns from a ten-day stint on the DL. His bullpen sessions reportedly went great and he has his blister problem behind him. When Walker faced the Tigers twice in 2015, he really struggled with the home run ball, giving up five in two games. Walker in 2017 is much improved: he has only given up four home runs so far, one of those in home run-friendly Coors Field and two in home run-friendly Chase Field. The change that he made since 2015 is that he replaced his splitter with his sinker as his second most frequently thrown pitch. This change has helped him because opponents are batting only .048 against this pitch. As a result, his FIP (this is like ERA, but takes luck out of the calculation) has gone down from 4.07 in 2015 to 3.49 in 2017.
Jordan Zimmermann (5-4 5.72 ERA) counters for the Tigers. Zimmermann seemed to turn things around when he allowed only one run in six innings on June third against the White Sox—the first time his FIP was under 4.50 since April 19th. But then the Red Sox tagged him for two runs in six innings (5.78 ERA). The key to Zimmermann’s success has been the effectivity of his slider. In his two quality games—against the Red Sox on April 8th and the White Sox on June 3rd— his slider had a horizontal movement of over 2. Since he hasn’t been able to command his slider, his second-most frequently thrown pitch, consistently, he hasn’t been able to have consistent success.Reasoning For The Pick
Walker has been the more effective and more consistent pitcher. Walker is a power pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball at an average of 93.5 mph and a max of 96.3 mph with almost as much frequency as his other four pitches combined. As such, he enjoys a strong match-up against the Tigers, whose OPS (on-base % plus slugging %; average is .730) is just .616 against power pitching. Zimmermann, meanwhile, is a power/finesse pitcher who relies neither primarily on the velocity nor on the location of his pitches. He relies most of all on a fastball at about average velocity, (92.3 mph; max of 94.3 mph) but also throws some breaking pitches, particularly his slider, very hard. The Diamondbacks are at their best against power/finesse pitchers: their OPS is .816 against them. Overall, their road numbers are poor. But I think that their batters can continue to succeed in Comerica Park because of its spacious outfield, which is conducive to extra-base hits and is a hitters-friendly ballpark. I like Walker to out-duel Zimmermann. I am backing the more consistent pitcher and lineup, each of whom enjoys decisive match-up advantages. I also like the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, which is better-rested, because the Tigers’ pen had to throw 6.2 innings yesterday, while Arizona’s pen only threw half as many. The Tigers’ bullpen also has the second-worst bullpen in terms of FIP (4.79) while the Diamondbacks; is ninth (3.68 FIP).
When the odds come out I will back the following plays on our MLB picks: