After winning four straight series, the Tigers hit a wall in Pittsburgh as they dropped two out of three games. The Rangers, on the other hand, have cruised, winning 12 of their last 15 games.
Rick Porcello, who is 4-5 with a 4.95 ERA, gets the call for the Tigers. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up two runs on 10 hits in his last outing, but was outdueled by Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, who tossed a complete game and held the Tigers to one run.
The offense is something Tigers manager Jim Leyland has not been happy about as of late. His team has scored eight runs in its past five games, which has resulted in a 2-3 record.
"We just haven't done anything offensively," Leyland said prior to Sunday's game. "It's simple: We gotta score some runs. There's no secret to it. That's where we're supposed to do and that's what we need to do."
Leyland knows it's especially important against a Rangers team that leads the Majors in runs scored and averages more than five runs per game. The Tigers hope they can find success against Justin Grimm.
With various injuries to Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando, Grimm is making his second career start. He allowed three runs on six hits while striking out seven in an impressive Major League debut against the Astros.
"He threw strikes. He had good poise out there," manager Ron Washington said after the game. "He did a great job for us. He really did. Kept us through six, kept us in the ballgame."
Since Grimm performed and fought through the nerves, the pitcher was rewarded with another big league start.
Tigers: Avila struggling since return
In four games since returning from the disabled list, catcher Alex Avila has only one hit in 16 at-bats. The Tigers backstop missed 15 days with a right hamstring strain and the slump is not that unexpected.
"I think that he's come back a little sluggish," Leyland said. "I think it does take a few days to get back into sync with this caliber [of] pitching."
Avila, however, is well off his pace of last season when he hit .303 through June with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs on his way to becoming a starter in the All-Star Game. He is batting .234 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 2012.
"We need him to hit," the skipper said.
Avila hopes to shake off that rust in Texas, where he has hit .292 in six games.
Rangers: Rangers rematch against Porcello
The last time the Rangers faced Porcello made for one of the right-hander's shortest outings of his career. He pitched one-plus innings, allowing nine runs -- eight earned -- on 10 hits and a walk on April 21.
Josh Hamilton homered off Porcello in the game. However, he is 1-for-5 against the sinkerballer in his career. David Murphy is the only other current Ranger with a home run off Porcello. He is 5-for-7 (.714) and the homer is his only extra-base hit.
The Rangers are known for what they can do with their bats, pacing the Majors in batting average and runs scored. But they're also a solid pitching team. They enter Monday tied for third in team ERA (3.60) in the AL, most wins in the MLB (45) and fewest losses (28).
Austin Jackson has not committed an error in center field since June 30, 2011, a stretch of 280 total chances over 121 games.
After injuring his wrist warming up in the bullpen earlier in the week, closer Jose Valverde is expected to be available for Monday's game. He is 3-2 with a 4.18 ERA and 13 saves this season.