Westbrook looks to reverse negative trend
June, 20, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Howard Smith/US PresswireCardinals P Jake Westbrook has a 7.05 ERA in his last seven starts.
The Cardinals, who are tied for the best run differential in the National League at plus-50, sit in third place in the NL Central, 4.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds. After a hot April, the Cardinals’ winning percentage has decreased in each month since. They are also struggling in close contests (6-11 in one-run games), in large part because of a bullpen that has struggled to hold leads.
St. Louis dropped the series opener to the Tigers, who suddenly are right back in the AL Central picture. While Detroit hasn’t been the contender many expected, it has reeled off three straight wins and has taken seven of its last nine games to pull within two games of the Cleveland Indians in the division. That is despite the Tigers having the third-worst winning percentage in the AL since April 19.
The Tigers, who are a victory away from tying their longest streak of the season, have had St. Louis’ number in interleague play, going 18-9. They also have won all four interleague series they have played this season. And although nowhere near as good in one-run games as last season, the Tigers are 11-12 in such games this year and have not been shut out.
Jake Westbrook will take the hill for the Cardinals aiming to turn around a season that started promising. Westbrook was nearly lights out in his first six starts, but since then has struggled mightily. One of the main reasons is his inability to keep his sinker low in the zone. He has left it up over his last seven starts, when have the Cards have gone 1-6.
Westbrook is 6-8 with a 5.89 ERA in 20 career starts against the Tigers. Keep an eye on his matchup with Miguel Cabrera, who is 6-for-10 with a home run, double and walk in 11 career plate appearances against him.
Detroit will throw Rick Porcello, who has been one of the most hittable pitchers in the league this season. His .315 opponent batting average is the worst in the major leagues among qualifying pitchers this season.
Porcello won his last start June 13 against the Cubs, but it was his first win since May 6. However, he has pitched well at home as of late, going 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA in last four home starts.