The World Champion Kansas City Royals trail the Detroit Tigers for the second spot in the Central by six games. This three game set presents them with a chance to close that gap. Sandwiched between seven games with the Twins, if the Royals were going to make any sort of move this season, it would likely be dependent upon taking advantage of this stretch of games.
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference
Game One - Monday, 6:10 PM CDT
|Daniel Norris (L)||5||18.0||19||5||4.00||4.03||4.18||3.88||0.3||0.4|
Having spent three separate stints on the disabled list this season, grounded cool guy who chooses to live in a Vanagon Daniel Norris has been limited to just five appearances - four of them starts. Thrice he has pitched five innings. Norris was the key return for the Tigers in the David Price deadline deal with Toronto last year, though Matt Boyd has proved to be more productive this year. Make no mistake though, Norris is the one with the higher ceiling. Health has been his enemy this season, but he was a top-20 prospect on both MLB.com and Baseball America's list heading into the 2015 season. His peripherals have been solid this season, but the standard small sample size alerts are in play, as he has yet to pass the 20-inning mark on the season.
Game Two - Tuesday, 6:10 PM CDT
|Danny Duffy (L)||35||124.1||138||25||2.82||3.16||3.57||3.19||2.9||3.5|
Tigers fans like to point to Verlander's strong second half last year, pairing it with his solid if not dominant performance this season, asserting that he is still one of the game's best pitchers. The slipper slope of arguing while using selective end points is clearly in play with any such analysis, but Verlander has certainly been good this season, if not quite the Cy Young front-runner he was in his peak years. Any hope his opponents had for an earlier decline have evaporated into the ether, but it's probably safe to say that this isn't the same Verlander that ran roughshod over the American League as the Tigers were beginning their stretch of A.L. Central dominance five years ago.
Game Three - Wednesday, 6:10 PM CDT
That Anibal Sanchez pitched his way from the rotation into the bullpen this season despite his $16.8M price tag should say roughly all that's needed to know about the 32-year-old righty. His 2015 was less than inspiring, but good health eluded him and a hope for a change of luck with an offseason to get right wasn't completely unrealistic. Of course, he sports an ERA north of 6.00 and a FIP north of 5.00 this season, so that hope would appear to have been misplaced. He had strung together four straight palatable starts (including an eight-inning gem against the Mets) heading into his last start, but he was shellacked in Texas in his last start (eight earned in four innings).
|Tyler Collins (L)||CF||95||4||11||12||1||.239||.295||.432||.311||92||-0.1||-0.3|
|Victor Martinez (S)||DH||451||21||47||69||0||.304||.359||.499||.362||127||1.2||1.4|
|Andrew Romine (S)||SS||109||1||12||6||5||.216||.296||.299||.268||62||-0.2||-0.3|
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)||C||216||10||24||33||0||.199||.315||.403||.311||92||1.0||0.7|
Stats through Saturday, August 13
With their third-, fourth-, and fifth-most valuable position players (Nick Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, and Cameron Maybin by fWAR) on the disabled list, the Tigers are scrambling to try to replace that production. Without those three in the lineup, Brad Ausmus is having to use four replacement-level (or worse) players on a daily basis. Having Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, and the Martinezes in the lineup helps ease his pain, but this lineup is hardly the stable of studs that Detroit had when they were pre-season picks to score hundreds more runs than everyone else in the first half of the decade we're in now.
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