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Detroit Tigers Series Preview: They seem a little awakened

The Tigers lost a series to the Royals and then immediately won six in a row. They lost the next two, but they’re playing better.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When we last saw the Detroit Tigers while the Royals visited them, they were in danger. It wasn’t anything that mattered too much because they are not a playoff team anyway, but they were 16 games under .500 and if they had been swept, they would have fallen into last place. And the Royals should have swept them. But after the Royals left town, they got red hot, immediately. They swept the Guardians and then took two of four from the White Sox, who are fighting to keep their season relevant. Up until they were shut out on Saturday, they finally scored some runs, putting up 37 in their six-game winning streak. To be honest, I’m not sure how much of the scoring is sustainable as they weren’t doing it with much power or anything, so many of their same issues remain, but they also have some talent that simply isn’t performing, so you’d think they might turn it around at some point. Not much has changed for them on the pitching front in a week and a half, so I won’t get into that here since we just talked Tigers recently.

Royals vs. Tigers Matchup Stats

Category Royals Tigers
Category Royals Tigers
Winning % .381 .424
H2H Wins 3 3
Team wRC+ 93 78
Team xFIP 4.61 4.23
Run Differential -109 -90
Highest fWAR Andrew Benintendi, 1.8 Tarik Skubal, 2.2

Tigers Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Riley Greene CF 95 .244 .347 .341 13.7% 20.0% 103 0.3
Javier Baez SS 293 .213 .249 .375 4.1% 24.9% 74 0.5
Miguel Cabrera DH 285 .295 .333 .356 5.3% 24.9% 96 -0.4
Robbie Grossman LF 267 .202 .307 .276 11.6% 30.0% 73 -0.8
Jonathan Schoop 2B 322 .212 .248 .320 3.7% 19.9% 59 1.3
Spencer Torkelson 1B 277 .198 .289 .305 10.5% 26.0% 73 -0.8
Jeimer Candelario 3B 248 .193 .258 .320 6.5% 23.8% 65 -0.3
Willi Castro RF 201 .255 .289 .356 3.5% 18.4% 82 0.1
Tucker Barnhart C 175 .217 .280 .255 8.0% 29.7% 56 -0.4

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 152 .234 .283 .433 6.6% 25.7% 101 0.4
Harold Castro INF/OF 190 .268 .298 .402 3.7% 19.5% 97 -0.2
Kody Clemens INF/OF 60 .170 .250 .358 10.0% 20.0% 71 0.1
Victor Reyes OF 105 .310 .333 .400 3.8% 17.1% 108 -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 32 30.1 2 4 24.0% 11.6% 2.67 4.61 0.4
Michael Fulmer 33 32.2 2 3 24.1% 12.0% 1.93 4.53 0.7
Andrew Chafin 30 25.2 0 1 29.7% 6.9% 2.45 2.98 0.7

Royals vs. Tigers Probable Pitching Matchups

July 11, Game One - RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP Brad Keller, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Michael Pineda 7 32.1 2 3 13.2% 4.7% 3.62 4.73 0.0
Brad Keller 16 90.2 4 9 15.4% 8.1% 4.37 4.34 0.7

The Royals just saw Pineda in Detroit in his return from the IL for a broken finger. It was kind of a typical Pineda start. He doesn’t give a ton of innings or get a ton of strikeouts, but he throws strikes and will generally keep his team in a game. He did give up back-to-back home runs to Vinnie Pasquantino and Hunter Dozier in that one and that’s what sunk him. As I mentioned in the last preview, lefties are what give him the most trouble, so the Royals should be stacking their lefties, which is sort of risky against the Tigers given their lefty relievers, but they’ve hit Pineda so much better than righties this season. I was going to mention Pineda’s home/road splits, but in a weird quirk, he’s made just one road start this season. It didn’t go well, but six of seven starts at home is kind of interesting regardless, even if it’s meaningless.

Career vs. KC: 14 GS, 83.1 IP, 7-7, 4.00 ERA

I liked Brad Keller’s chances the last time these two teams matched up because if he’s throwing strikes, I just didn’t think they’d be able to do much. He went six shutout innings with just two walks, so I’d say that went well. The Astros gave him some more trouble, though I think he was put in a bad spot by his defense and the little league park they play in and actually pitched a bit better against a great offense than the line suggests. So I’m interested to see how he fares against the Tigers this time around. He’s faced two teams a second time this year pretty quickly. In both second outings, he struggled mightily. He was decent against the Twins on May 21 and got rocked by them on May 27. Then he was outstanding against the A’s on June 18 and got rocked by them on June 25. It’s hard to say that a bad offense makes a difference too because the A’s offense cannot be considered anything but bad and they handled him a second time, so this will be a test for Keller.

Career vs. DET: 14 G, 10 GS, 65.1 IP, 5-5, 3.17 ERA

July 11, Game Two - RHP Alex Faedo vs. LHP Daniel Lynch, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Alex Faedo 11 52.0 1 4 18.2% 9.1% 5.02 4.88 0.5
Daniel Lynch 13 63.2 3 7 19.9% 9.3% 4.95 4.56 0.5

Alex Faedo was a teammate at the University of Florida with Singer and Jackson Kowar as he was a first round pick out of there in 2017 by the Tigers. He was solid in the minors in 2019, but 2020 was a wash and he missed all of 2021 after having Tommy John. But he came back this year, pitched well in limited time in the minors and then made the jump to join the Tigers rotation. He throws a fastball at 92-94, a slider at about 85 and a changeup that’s been pretty effective. The fastball is the problem. Opponents are hitting .340 with a .606 SLG against it. While he got more strikeouts in June, he’s still giving up a ton of hits and too many home runs. A big key might be to swing early. Opponents are hitting .611 with a .944 SLG on the first pitch against him.

Career vs. KC: First Appearance

We last saw Daniel Lynch during the West Coast road trip. He had that 10 strikeout game against the A’s and then had a rough-ish start against the Angels where he walked five and struck out five in 4.2 innings. He only gave up one run on three hits, so that part was good, but before he could make his next start, he was placed on the 15-day IL with blister issues. He made one rehab start and it didn’t go great, but he’s back in the big leagues for this game. As well as the Tigers have hit recently, this feels like a good matchup for him with his slider, if he has feel for it. The Tigers swing and miss a lot and a good slider will give them countless issues, so hopefully he’s able to get around that pitch because it is a legitimately good swing and miss pitch against a team that should flail a lot at it. The good news for Lynch is that the Tigers have also struggled quite a bit with lefty fastballs and specifically against lefty fastballs up. So if he has any sort of command, he should be just fine in his return to the big leagues.

Career vs. DET: 2 GS, 10.2 IP, 1-1, 2.53 ERA

July 12 - RHP Beau Brieske vs. LHP Kris Bubic, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Beau Brieske 14 75.2 2 6 15.9% 7.6% 4.16 4.80 0.1
Kris Bubic 13 48.2 1 6 18.3% 13.9% 6.84 4.91 -0.3

The thing Beau Brieske has done since he’s been up is generally throw strikes. He’s walked more than two hitters in a game in just four of his 14 starts, but one of them was against the Royals in Detroit in their last series. In that start, he allowed three runs on six hits in three innings. He followed that up with 6.1 shutout innings against the White Sox with just two hits allowed, so he pitched okay against the Royals but much better in his last outing. Something I find interesting with young pitchers is how they do home vs. away and he has a 3.06 ERA at home compared to 5.13 on the road. Now, granted, many road parks are a lot more hitter friendly than his home stadium, so maybe that doesn’t apply to Kauffman Stadium. One thing that I always like to look at and can find interesting is how a pitcher does when they’re ahead in the count and Brieske isn’t demonstrably better ahead in the count compared with even. That means the Royals can be selective and not worry about falling behind like they have to with some pitchers.

Career vs. KC: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 0-0, 4.50 ERA

Since Kris Bubic has been back in the big leagues, he’s pitched like a fringe starter, but that’s such a huge improvement over what he showed early this season that it feels like a slight success. He has a 4.58 ERA in 35.1 innings over seven starts. And in his last start, while he struggled against a very good lineup in a very bad park for him, he did get a ton of swings and misses. I still believe there’s something more to Bubic and what he can be for this team, but even if he is just a sixth starter type, there’s certainly value in that. His walks, though, are something that absolutely have to get fixed and they have to get fixed soon. He hasn’t shown great control in his previous two seasons, but it’s never been this bad. He pitched okay against the Tigers in Detroit but was not at all pitch efficient and couldn’t get through five, so he’ll be working to figure that out in this game.

Career vs. DET: 7 G, 6 GS, 36.2 IP, 2-0, 2.45 ERA

July 13 - LHP Tarik Skubal vs. RHP Brady Singer, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Tarik Skubal 17 94.2 6 7 25.2% 6.5% 3.99 3.31 2.2
Brady Singer 13 65.2 3 3 23.4% 4.8% 4.25 3.41 0.7

By now you know that Tarik Skubal was part of the 2018 draft with all the Royals guys, and along with his injured rotation mate, Casy Mize, he’s been one of the best of the bunch. He’s made the most starts of all of them and looks like he’s figured some things out. His walk rate has dropped each season of his career. His strikeout rate has stayed steady. His big issue last year, though, was home runs, and he’s done a very nice job of getting those down to a manageable number and now looks like the future ace of the Tigers. He was in a bit of a downturn when he faced the Royals in Detroit and he got hit pretty hard, giving up five runs and not making it through five innings. He only struck out one and walked three in that game, but he bounced back nicely against the White Sox with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings in a win on Friday.

Career vs. KC: 8 G, 6 GS, 39.0 IP, 1-5, 4.38 ERA

I think we’re all still waiting for a dominant Brady Singer to emerge in a start and it just hasn’t happened since that first start of the year when he came back from Omaha. It’s not that he hasn’t been solid. After going seven and giving up three against the Guardians, Singer has now made 10 starts and averaged exactly 60 innings with a 4.05 ERA. In those games, he’s struck out 57 and walked just 12. If Bubic has pitched well enough to be a number five, Singer is probably pitching well enough to be a three or so. Yes, you’d love to see him get to that number two and he still could, but I feel comfortable with him in the rotation moving forward. Now he gets a chance to avenge a terrible fifth inning that cost him a chance to go deep against the Tigers in Detroit. He had eight strikeouts and just one walk through four innings last weekend, but hit a wall in the fifth and had to be replaced. It was very disappointing and hopefully he can get through six or seven.

Career vs. DET: 8 GS, 42.1 IP, 4-0, 2.98 ERA

Royals vs. Tigers Prediction

The Tigers have been playing some very good baseball since the Royals left town and the Royals are playing sort of decently in general. Most double headers are splits, and I think the whole series will be that with the Royals snagging one of the final two games.


The bottom of the Central plays four games in three days. How do those games go?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Royals sweep.
    (4 votes)
  • 24%
    Royals take three of four.
    (22 votes)
  • 53%
    It’s a split.
    (48 votes)
  • 11%
    Tigers win three of four.
    (10 votes)
  • 6%
    Tigers sweep.
    (6 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now