While arguments can be made for the relevance of the Rockies-Brewers series and the Braves-Marlins series, this weeks Twins-Tigers series carries much more playoff implications since both teams are directly involved in fighting for the same spot. This series is pretty much make or break for the Twins. They need to take 3 out of 4 to at least tie.......a split to stay mathematically alive...........
Blackburn 11-11 4.18 era 99 ERA+ vs. Porcello 14-9 4.14 era 110 ERA+
Blackburn is in his second full season as a Twins starter. He's been pretty average thus far. A win here would be crucial for Blackburn and the Twins. He's had mixed results against the Tigers 2-3 4.50 era in his career.
The Tigers have their 20-year old phenom Porcello taking the hill. Barring injury, he has an excellent career ahead of him. In addition to being the #2 guy on a contending team....he's also gotten into a brawl (which he won) against the greek god of walks....Kevin Youkilis. He's also had mixed results against the Twins going 1-2 3.71 era.
At first glance Porcello and the Tigers have the edge in this match-up. Blackburn has the slight edge of experience in this one. Although it's only his second full year....he has some pennant race experience as he was in the Twins rotation when they were neck and neck with the White Sox last year (although he didn't pitch that well during that time).
Duensing 5-1 3.33 era 125 ERA+ vs. Verlander 17-9 3.41 era 133 ERA+
On Tuesday, it will be the Twins turn to start a rookie as Brian Duensing takes the start. The Tigers counter with their ace Justin Verlander. He has bounced back from a disappointing 2008 to be fulfill the ace role in the Tigers rotation. However, he hasn't quite dominated the Twins in his career as he is 4-6 with a 4.26 era. Point being, he hasn't been automatic against the Twins and with their recent resurgence, this game is anything but a guarantee for the Tigers.
Pavano 13-11 4.86 era 91 ERA+ vs. Bonine 0-1 4.60 era 99 ERA+
The Twins start hired gun Carl Pavano in this game. He's been a solid (if untyped) pick up for the Twins. He's provided some stability in the rotation and has managed to not get hurt. While his overall body of work isn't the greatest, he has dominated against the Tigers in his career
going 4-0 with a 1.69 era.
The Tigers start with Eddie Bonine in this game. Its unclear how much can be expected out of him. He's only started 8 games and hasn't really stood out. Probably not the best person to start with the season on the line......in other words, this would be a good place for him to step up and make a name for himself.
Baker 14-9 4.48 era 93 ERA+ vs. Robertson 2-2 5.56 era 82 ERA+
The Tigers start Scott Baker in this crucial game. Like his teammate Blackburn, he's been fairly average against the Tigers in his career (4-4 4.57 era)........hes been fairly average this year but if he steps up in this game any struggles would be forgotten about pretty quickly.
The Tigers start Nate Robertson in this game. Considering that he's pitched worse since the Tigers 2006 World Series appearance, this match-up definitely doesn't favor the Tigers. Still, he has experience in the post-season and having an experienced hand going during the pennant race may lead to Robertson pitching better than he has.
In reality...its tough to see what (if any) impact the winner of this series and division will have on the post-season. Neither of these teams are going to be mistaken for the '27 Yankees soon. However, the playoff implications more than make up for the flaws in these teams. Either way, it should be an exciting series to watch and i'm looking forward (keeping fingers crossed) for an exciting last weekend of the baseball season.