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Detroit Tigers Series Preview: Disappointing, meet disappointinger

The Tigers had even higher hopes than the Royals this season, but the basement buddies remain together in 2022.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Boy, the Detroit Tigers thought this was going to be their year to jump up in the standings and get back into contention. And it’s hard to argue with that thought process. They went 77-85 last year which was a huge improvement over previous years to start, but they did it after they started a pathetic 9-24. Their offense took a step forward and their pitching looked like it might be about to emerge with Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize and Matt Manning with some others like Tyler Alexander as players who appeared to be parts of the solution. Manning is hurt. Mize had Tommy John. Alexander was hurt and hasn’t been good when healthy. At least Skubal is pitching well for them.

Maybe not equally disappointing but almost there is how bad their offense has been. They don’t hit for power, they don’t walk, they don’t steal bases, they just don’t score runs. Their best hitter is Miguel Cabrera, which is sad in itself that it’s a sad statement. But he’s just kind of there these days. Spencer Torkelson has shown some signs here and there, but he just hasn’t gotten things going. Jonathan Schoop hasn’t followed up on his solid 2021. Jeimer Candelario has not been good. Javy Baez hasn’t made good offensively on his contract. They do have Riley Greene in the big leagues and he’s looked pretty good so far in a limited sample, but it’s been a rough go this year for the Tigers.

Royals vs. Tigers Matchup Stats

Category Royals Tigers
Category Royals Tigers
Winning % .365 .392
H2H Wins 1 2
Team wRC+ 91 76
Team xFIP 4.63 4.16
Run Differential -103 -97
Highest fWAR Bobby Witt Jr., 1.8 Tarik Skubal, 2.4

Tigers Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Victor Reyes RF 77 .293 .312 .360 2.6% 18.2% 92 -0.3
Riley Greene CF 43 .286 .419 .314 18.6% 14.0% 126 0.3
Javier Baez SS 253 .222 .261 .381 4.3% 23.7% 80 0.5
Miguel Cabrera DH 250 .300 .336 .369 4.8% 26.0% 101 -0.2
Robbie Grossman LF 234 .215 .316 .290 11.5% 29.9% 81 -0.5
Spencer Torkelson 1B 244 .192 .283 .290 10.7% 25.8% 68 -0.9
Jeimer Candelario 3B 219 .190 .242 .317 5.5% 24.7% 58 -0.4
Jonathan Schoop 2B 282 .190 .223 .309 3.5% 20.9% 48 0.8
Tucker Barnhart C 155 .214 .265 .241 6.5% 29.7% 47 -0.5

Tigers Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Eric Haase C/OF 129 .215 .264 .388 6.2% 26.4% 84 0.0
Harold Castro INF/OF 166 .278 .299 .430 2.4% 18.1% 106 0.0
Willi Castro INF/OF 172 .261 .291 .379 2.9% 18.0% 89 0.2
Kody Clemens INF/OF 41 .139 .220 .250 9.8% 24.4% 34 -0.1

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 29 28.0 2 4 25.2% 10.4% 2.57 4.56 0.5
Michael Fulmer 28 28.1 2 2 25.0% 11.6% 1.91 4.24 0.7
Andrew Chafin 26 21.1 0 1 29.9% 6.9% 2.95 2.85 0.6

Royals vs. Tigers Probable Pitching Matchups

July 1 - RHP Brad Keller vs. RHP Michael PIneda, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brad Keller 14 79.0 2 9 15.3% 7.8% 4.56 4.30 0.6
Michael Pineda 5 22.1 1 2 13.6% 4.5% 3.22 4.77 0.1

So many of the things that made Keller a unicorn when he was posting good ERAs and giving lots of innings while not striking out many hitters seem to have disappeared. I don’t know if it’s that hitters are able to track the unique movement better now or if the movement isn’t what it used to be, but he no longer gives up weak contact. He no longer limits hits. So now he’s become a pitcher who gives up a hit per inning, walks a batter every three and only strikes out two every three. His ground ball rate is barely below 50 percent, but it still is this year and was last year as well. He needs to get his slider back to help everything play up and that’s what he had when he was mowing through the league early in the year. This is a matchup that should suit him, though, so he has a chance to get back on track against a very bad Tigers offense.

Career vs. DET: 13 G, 9 GS, 59.1 IP, 4-5, 3.49 ERA


The Tigers are expecting to welcome Michael Pineda back to the rotation for this game. He was hit by a comebacker on May 14 and broke a finger, so it was a fairly long recovery. He threw 68 pitches in his second rehab start, so while he might not be a full go with no restrictions, he should be good to go for 85-90 pitches. He’s been good in the big leagues in his five starts this season. While his fastball has been better than last year, that’s not his bread and butter. He only throws it around 90, which is always surprising with his big frame. It’s his slider that does his dirty work for him. He gets whiffs on 31.4 percent of swings and opponents are just 2 for 18 against it this year. In the limited time, he’s also had a surprsiingly effective changeup, so we’ll see if that continues from his earlier work this season. Where’s he’s had big struggles is against lefties, so I would anticipate the Royals will have all their lefties (save for Ryan O’Hearn) going in this one.

Career vs. KC: 13 GS, 78.1 IP, 7-6, 3.91 ERA

July 2 - LHP Kris Bubic vs. RHP Beau Brieske, 3:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kris Bubic 11 38.2 1 5 17.9% 12.5% 7.45 4.81 -0.2
Beau Brieske 12 63.1 1 6 16.2% 7.5% 4.55 4.77 -0.2

Kris Bubic had looked better since coming back from the minors. Until his last start. His control was a mess and even though he was able to get out of the first without any damage, he allowed four in the second. Then when it looked like he had settled down, he allowed one more in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Three of the seven runs were unearned, but he just looked like a mess. I was kind of hoping to see Jackson Kowar in this start with how well he pitched in relief, but I guess that’ll have to wait another day. I guess a positive from that start is that he got a ton of grounders, so his changeup was at least moving how he wanted it. The Tigers offense is bad, but they actually do sort of come alive against lefties, so this may not be the cakewalk it could seem from the outside for Bubic.

Career vs. DET: 6 G, 5 GS, 32.0 IP, 2-0, 2.25 ERA


Beau Brieske, unlike so many others in this series and on his team, was not a high draft pick. He was a 27th rounder out of Colorado State University - Pueblo and has risen through the system pretty quickly. He showed exceptional control in the minors this year and while he probably didn’t have the performance to warrant a callup just yet this year, the situation dictated that he was needed. He throws a pretty firm fastball that sits 93-96ish. He also has a changeup and a slider and then the very occasional sinker and curve. Where he’s gotten in some trouble is with that slider when it flattens out on him. It’s not an especially high-spin pitch so it can cause him some trouble at times. His changeup allows him to succeed against lefties, but righties have handled him pretty well. I don’t know how likely this is to continue, but he’s actually a pitcher who has gotten better as the game progresses, so the Royals will need to get to him early.

Career vs. KC: First Appearance

July 3 - RHP Brady Singer vs. LHP Tarik Skubal, 11:05am (on Peacock)

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 11 54.0 3 3 22.1% 4.5% 4.50 3.57 0.5
Tarik Skubal 15 84.0 5 6 26.1% 6.2% 3.75 3.18 2.4

Brady Singer hasn’t been able to recapture the dominance from his first two starts of the season when he threw seven shutout innings in each of them, but he has been generally fine. His last start was his best in some ways, namely going 8.1 innings for a new season-high for the Royals, but also his second-worst with five runs allowed in that time. The final was an inherited runner scoring, but it counts just the same. The outing could have been so different if he had just kept his glove down, but he deflected a ball with two outs that would have ended the inning, but the A’s ended up scoring two runs. The concern is that he hasn’t been getting nearly as many swings and misses over the last few starts. And while many will wonder where his changeup went, he’ll likely be facing a fair amount of righties in this one. But there are some lefties, so he’ll hopefully break it out against a team that hasn’t seen it yet.

Career vs. DET: 7 GS, 37.2 IP, 4-0, 2.87 ERA


Tarik Skubal has had a very nice season in his third big league season, but he’s struggled a fair amount in his last few starts. He has an 8.84 ERA in his last four starts. He’s still striking guys out with more than one per inning, but he’s also walked 11 in 18.1 innings in those starts. He’s still throwing a good amount of strikes and getting swings and misses, but he’s being hit. The good news for the Tigers is that his slider was on point in his last start, even though he struggled. He got tons of whiffs on it and didn’t allow a hit. But he struggled with the strike zone with it a bit and walked two hitters. Even while having a good season, he isn’t exactly getting deep into games, pitching into the sixth in just eight of his 15 starts and into the seventh in just four.


Career vs. KC: 7 G, 5 GS, 34.1 IP, 1-4, 3.67 ERA

Royals vs. Tigers Prediction

Believe it or not, the Royals are actually playing better over the last few weeks than the Tigers. I didn’t know that was possible, but the Tigers are now 5-13 over their last 18. Nobody wins in this series, if we’re being honest, but I’ll say the Tigers take two of three because I don’t trust the Royals to be able to come back if they get down by even one.

SB Nation has partnered with DraftKings to sponsor select series previews this season. Here are the betting odds for this series. The Royals are a 1.5 run favorite tonight with a -105 moneyline, and an over/under of 8.5 runs scored in the game.

Poll

The Royals and Tigers are fighting for bottom of the division supremacy. How many wins for the Royals this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    3
    (6 votes)
  • 41%
    2
    (37 votes)
  • 45%
    1
    (41 votes)
  • 6%
    0
    (6 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now