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Detroit Tigers Series Preview: A chance for a rebound perhaps

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Some say laughter is the best medicine, but a series against the Tigers might be best for the Royals right now.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a team in baseball playing worse than the Royals right now, but it’s hard to imagine a better team for them to face than the worst team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers. It’s not just that the Tigers are the worst team in baseball, but the Royals swept them just a couple weeks ago in Detroit, so there should be some confidence there for the boys in blue. The concern, of course, is that they continue to play poorly. Because losing a series to the Tigers after what they’ve been through could be the blow to the season that they can’t come back from. You’d hope not, but these are human beings and confidence absolutely plays a role in all of this, so they really need to get back on track in this series.

The Tigers struggles aren’t new. They can’t really hit with just a handful of players a threat to do much of anything. Akil Baddoo was one of the great stories of the first couple weeks of the season, but since his scorching hot start, he’s hit .100/.151/.240 over his last 17 games with 27 strikeouts in 53 plate appearances. Miguel Cabrera does have four hits over his last two games, but he’s also hitting just .163/.265/.233 in 12 games since coming off the IL. Jeimer Candelario can still hit pretty well. And Robbie Grossman can certainly walk, but their offense has a lot of holes. The starting pitching has actually been okay enough. Matthew Boyd has had a weird but good start to his year. Jose Urena has had good results. And Spencer Turnbull and Casey Mize have been generally fine. It’s the bullpen that’s tough to trust.

Royals vs. Tigers Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Tigers
Category Royals Tigers
Winning % .485 .294
Team wRC+ 92 77
Team xFIP 4.39 4.76
Run Differential -31 -68
H2H Wins 4 0
Highest fWAR Danny Duffy, 1.3 Matthew Boyd, 1.1

Tigers Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Robbie Grossman LF 141 .225 .383 .351 18.4% 22.0% 116 0.7
Jonathan Schoop 1B 119 .180 .218 .243 5.0% 27.7% 29 -0.9
Jeimer Candelario 3B 141 .289 .355 .398 9.2% 24.8% 115 0.4
Miguel Cabrera DH 76 .149 .250 .254 11.8% 28.9% 47 -0.6
Nomar Mazara RF 45 .238 .289 .429 6.7% 15.6% 99 -0.3
Niko Goodrum SS 105 .242 .314 .421 8.6% 41.9% 107 0.5
Willi Castro 2B 116 .194 .250 .306 6.0% 29.3% 56 -0.5
Akil Baddoo CF 82 .195 .232 .494 4.9% 42.7% 93 0.1
Grayson Greiner C 37 .222 .243 .333 2.7% 43.2% 59 -0.1

Tigers Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Jake Rogers C 4 .250 .250 .250 0.0% 25.0% 39 0.0
Harold Castro INF/OF 48 .302 .362 .302 8.3% 20.8% 94 0.1
JaCoby Jones OF 77 .160 .182 .267 2.6% 42.9% 22 -0.6

Tigers Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Gregory Soto 9 8.2 1 1 26.8% 14.6% 3.12 4.42 0.0
Jose Cisnero 7 7.2 0 0 20.6% 11.8% 5.87 5.76 0.0
Michael Fulmer 6 6.2 0 0 20.0% 16.7% 9.45 6.91 -0.4

Probable Starting Pitchers

Tuesday - Brady Singer vs. Matthew Boyd, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 6 29.0 1 3 23.6% 8.9% 3.41 4.12 0.6
Matthew Boyd 6 35.2 2 3 17.3% 5.0% 2.27 4.96 1.1

To be honest, I’m still confused how Matthew Boyd has gone from allowing 54 home runs over the last two seasons to allowing just one through 35.2 innings this year. His fastball, which was the culprit quite a bit last season, is the same velocity, is spinning the same and is actually being hit harder than it was last season. He’s also getting really similar movement on it. This is worth noting, though. He’s allowed a .230 average and .361 SLG on it. The xBA is .265, which is still 34 points lower than the xBA last year. But the xSLG is .529, which is just 31 points lower than last year’s xSLG. I know that the expected stats aren’t predictive, but at the same time, you wonder how much longer he can find himself getting lucky on that fastball. He is staying on the edges way better with it this year, so that probably has something to do with it too, but you’d think as the weather heats up, he’ll at least get hit a little harder. He was really good against the Royals when they faced off a couple weeks ago. He took the loss but only gave up two runs on three hits over eight innings. He only struck out three, though, so hitters were at least seeing the ball decently.

The last time we saw Brady Singer, he was channeling all of us and screaming at Angel Hernandez as he was pulled from a game in which he had a lead that the bullpen would ultimately let disappear. And I thought he was great in that game until the nightmare of a sixth inning that included a strikeout called a HBP and then total implosion. That’s probably not fair because Singer wasn’t really even bad in that inning, but things did get out of hand and you wonder if his emotion played a role in that. His best start of the year came in Detroit in the game Boyd lost when he went seven innings with just one run allowed and eight strikeouts. It was a season high for him with 14 whiffs as well.

Wednesday - Danny Duffy vs. Casey Mize, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Danny Duffy 6 35.2 4 2 28.0% 7.0% 1.26 3.72 1.3
Casey Mize 6 32.2 1 3 16.3% 9.9% 4.41 4.74 0.1

Mize was awesome in his first two starts of the year. Then he struggled against Oakland, had a very bad start against the Royals, which I’ll get back to in a minute and was fine enough against the White Sox before a solid start against the Red Sox, albeit one that saw him walk four and struck out three over six innings. In all, he’s thrown 21.2 innings in his last four starts and has just 14 strikeouts against 10 walks with five home runs allowed. That simply won’t get it done. He just doesn’t have a swing and miss pitch right now and that’s really hurting him. He has a fastball that averages almost 95 MPH and it’s been okay. I thought his slider would be a big strikeout pitch for him, but it’s only at a 27 percent whiff rate. That’s fine, but not enough. And then there’s his sinker and splitter. Both have been hit decently. In that one start against the Royals, he gave up six runs on seen hits and couldn’t get out of the fifth and walked three while striking out just one. The Royals offense isn’t exactly going as well as they were then, but it’s an opportunity for them for sure.

Danny Duffy’s worst start of the year came on Thursday, but even if he had held the Indians to just the one run, he would have taken the loss. Instead, he threw his first game with more than one earned run allowed and his ERA skyrocketed to 1.26. He’s been super consistent this season. He’s had double digits swinging strikes in every game. He’s allowed fewer hits than innings pitched in four of six starts. He’s walked two or fewer in four of six starts. And he’s struck out a batter per inning in all but one start. Against Detroit, he went five shutout innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. They had a lot of trouble with all his pitches really but they swung and missed at 47.6 percent of fastballs they offered at, which is easily the highest of the season for Duffy and one of the highest rates of his career.

Thursday - Daniel Lynch vs. Spencer Turnbull, 12:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Daniel Lynch 2 5.1 0 1 9.7% 16.1% 18.56 6.76 -0.1
Spencer Turnbull 4 19.0 1 2 17.6% 5.9% 4.74 4.72 0.5

Every time the Royals see Spencer Turnbull, it seems like he’s a guy who should be better than what he is. He’s not bad by any stretch, but the stuff just seems like it should do more for him. I’m not sure why that is. The start to his season has been sort of interesting because both his strikeouts and walks are down, which obviously means more contact, and a lot of those have turned into popups with that rate jumping quite a bit early this season. I’m not sure if that’s him or the hitters he’s faced. He features a 93-94 MPH four-seamer that just seems heavy when watching him pitch. He has a good slider, a sinker that he runs up near 95 on the regular and the occasional curve and changeup. He’s had a big reverse platoon split this year and has been hit very hard with runners in scoring position, but he’s just one of those pitchers that I don’t feel like you know what you’re going to get from game to game with him. I’m not sure if this is just him getting back into pitching shape, but the only time he’s made it through six is against the Royals, so he might be good, but you likely won’t see him for a long time.

I mentioned this on Inside the Crown Monday, but with just 34 pitches thrown, it might not be a bad idea if Daniel Lynch was going to get another start to push him a day and move Brad Keller back to face the White Sox. And that’s exactly what they’re doing here. Whether or not he was tipping his pitches, he can’t live in the middle of the plate like he did in his terrible start on Saturday night. Every team can hit that even if they don’t know what’s coming. The Tigers are a poor offense and could be the perfect team to finally get a good big league start in against for Lynch.

Prediction

It’s hard to say what a team that’s lost eight in a row is going to do, but I believe so little in the Tigers that I think the Royals win two of three to at least get back to .500 before they have to face the White Sox again.

Poll

Can the Royals win a game? Or a series maybe?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Not only can they win one, they’ll sweep the Tigers.
    (16 votes)
  • 50%
    They’ll win the series.
    (48 votes)
  • 24%
    Sure, they can win one. But that’s all they’ll win.
    (23 votes)
  • 8%
    Nope. This losing streak goes to 11.
    (8 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now