A marquee pitching match-up will leave hitters for both the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers and hometown Washington Nationals wishing they had a day off on Sunday. The way Los Angeles pitcher Clayton Kershaw is throwing he will definitely be a top candidate for the National League Cy Young Award. He has a league-leading 1.98 ERA and, while he’s been better at Dodger Stadium, he’s worked well on the road, owning a 2.20 ERA. In his one previous start against the Nationals this season, Kershaw was very sharp, pitching 8 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out 11 batters back in May.
While Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann hasn’t be quite as good, he’s still among the NL’s top starters in 2013. Overall, Zimmermann is 12-4 with a 2.58 ERA, but it’s at home where he excels: at Nationals Park this season, he’s 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA. Like Kershaw, Zimmermann performed very well in his only outing against the Dodgers this season. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and nine hits. He walked none and struck out five. Expect these two pitchers to be on form and opt for under 7 runs at 2.00.
The Detroit Tigers will perform well on the road against the Kansas City Royals. The determining factor in this contest is just how well Detroit’s top hitters have done against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie throughout their careers. Miguel Cabrera (.345 batting average), Torii Hunter (.345), Prince Fielder (.417), Jhonny Peralta (.318) and Victor Martinez (.294) all have gotten the better of Guthrie. It’s worth noting that Guthrie did pitch well against Detroit on 10 June (6 1/3 innings pitched; two runs allowed) but the Tigers are an offensive juggernaut (ranked second in runs scored per game in the American League) and it’s unlikely that he’ll keep them at bay twice.
As for Tigers pitcher Doug Fister, he had an up-and-down first half, notching a 4.02 ERA. But he has thrown effectively against teams with winning percentages under .500 (like the Royals currently possess). In ten starts against struggling clubs he has a 2.80 ERA. Moreover, in his one start against the Royals earlier this year, Fister nearly threw a complete game, going eight innings and getting the victory (he allowed three runs). Look for a win for the Tigers at 1.82.