clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Detroit Tigers Series Preview: The battle for AL Central fourth place should be the talk of baseball

Come on, it’s not like any other big stories are out there.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The month of September brings about some of the most exciting baseball you’ll ever see. The late-season pennant races that can determine who is playing in October can be just incredibly compelling. And then there is Royals vs. Tigers. This series is interesting in some sort of ways. Both teams have fired their long-time executives and both teams were thought to be at similar-ish places and both teams have been massive disappointments this season. Now the two teams are fighting for the season series. The Royals need to win just one game to win it and the Tigers obviously need to sweep. And a Tigers sweep would be the only way they could leave this series out of last place as they start 2.5 games behind the Royals. The Tigers have gotten here with, as you know, a terrible offense. They’re last in baseball in runs scored. They’re last in baseball in home runs by more than 20. They have the second-fewest stolen bases in baseball. They have the fewest walks in baseball. And they rank in the bottom 10 in strikeouts. Their pitching hasn’t been good either, but yikes, the offense is bad.

Royals vs. Tigers Matchup Stats

Category Royals Tigers
Category Royals Tigers
Winning % .412 .395
H2H Wins 9 7
Team wRC+ 93 80
Team xFIP 4.46 4.36
Run Differential -156 -158
Highest fWAR Brady Singer, 2.8 Tarik Skubal, 2.9

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 379 .251 .319 .363 8.4% 29.0% 97 0.8
Javier Baez SS 556 .241 .281 .394 4.5% 25.4% 91 1.8
Harold Castro 2B 417 .271 .300 .385 3.8% 18.2% 94 -0.2
Miguel Cabrera DH 409 .253 .303 .312 6.4% 23.2% 76 -1.4
Spencer Torkelson 1B 373 .205 .290 .314 9.4% 23.9% 76 -0.9
Kerry Carpenter RF 109 .263 .321 .505 5.5% 29.4% 134 0.6
Eric Haase C 329 .250 .298 .428 6.4% 28.3% 106 0.9
Jeimer Candelario 3B 443 .211 .269 .360 6.1% 23.5% 79 0.0
Akil Baddoo LF 185 .194 .281 .267 10.8% 30.8% 62 -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
Tucker Barnhart C 289 .214 .277 .259 7.6% 24.6% 57 -0.2
Ryan Kreidler INF 51 .212 .271 .288 6.6% 27.9% 61 0.3
Jonathan Schoop INF 480 .202 .235 .327 3.5% 21.0% 57 1.5
Willi Castro INF/OF 387 .236 .280 .353 3.9% 20.9% 80 0.4
Victor Reyes OF 307 .260 .293 .354 3.9% 22.5% 84 -0.2

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 59 57.0 2 9 23.2% 12.2% 3.32 4.50 0.6
Andrew Chafin 59 52.2 2 3 26.8% 7.7% 2.91 3.43 0.7
Alex Lange 66 58.2 5 4 31.9% 11.6% 3.68 3.17 0.7

Royals vs. Tigers Projected Pitching Matchups

September 27 - RHP Zack Greinke vs. LHP Joey Wentz, 5:40pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Zack Greinke 24 124.0 4 9 13.1% 4.7% 4.21 4.47 1.5
Joey Wentz 5 23.0 2 2 20.7% 6.5% 3.13 4.12 0.5

Zack Greinke will be making his penultimate start of the 2022 season in this one after getting pushed back by a game to give him a little extra rest. This season, he’s been pretty solid, serving as a roughly league average starter who generally leaves his team in the game when he leaves his start. A guy who only gives five innings for the most part and six on a good day probably works a little better on a team with a deeper bullpen, but there are certainly worse things than a starter with 104 ERA- and a 106 FIP-. Maybe he’s a touch overpaid at $13 million, but also that money hasn’t stopped them from doing anything, so what does it really matter? While Greinke has posted a 2.32 ERA at home and a 6.36 ERA on the road, he hasn’t pitched in Comerica this season, which is a very good pitcher’s park as well. Against a team that both doesn’t walk and strikes out a ton, I would think Greinke could outthink them enough to have a good start.

Career vs. DET: 31 G, 28 GS, 170.2 IP, 13-8, 2.95 ERA

The Tigers have gotten some very encouraging starts from Joey Wentz since his callup ahead of facing the Royals in Kansas City a couple of weeks back. He’s thrown 16.1 innings with just eight hits allowed and a 1.10 ERA in three starts. He’s limited hard contact, he isn’t walking hitters, he’s just generally looking like the guy the Braves were hoping for when they drafted him 40th overall in 2016 out of Shawnee Mission East. He doesn’t do it with a hard fastball, averaging just under 93 MPH (which is not a hard fastball in 2022) and he throws it a lot, nearly 60 percent of the time. He also throws a cuter, changeup and curve. Nobody is hitting any of it other than the changeup, but his changeup has been the pitch that’s been hit. Strangely enough, he’s been hit hard at home, though the sample is impossibly small. He also hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to turn over a lineup a third time, facing just nine hitters a third time in his five starts this year.

Career vs. KC: 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA

September 28 - LHP Daniel Lynch vs. RHP Matt Manning, 5:40pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Daniel Lynch 25 121.0 4 11 21.0% 8.9% 5.06 4.27 0.8
Matt Manning 12 63.0 2 3 18.3% 7.2% 3.43 4.38 1.0

I wonder a little bit if the Royals have decided to limit Daniel Lynch’s workload over his last few starts. He was once again very inefficient in throwing 78 pitches over four innings against the Twins, but he allowed just one earned run on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk, so he easily could have come back out for the fifth inning in this start. Things have been on the downhill trend since his five shutout innings against the Dodgers. Since then, he has a 6.48 ERA with 47 hits allowed in 33.1 innings. Up to that start, he had a 2.94 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 34 hits allowed in 33.2 innings in his seven previous starts. Who knows what the Royals have in Lynch? I don’t think they do right now, but I think they’re going to find out when they bring in more competent coaching. On the bright side, Lynch does have just a 7.7 percent walk rate in these last seven starts, so at least that might be a start.

Career vs. DET: 5 GS, 23.1 IP, 1-2, 5.79 ERA

Of all the young pitchers who have thrown for the Tigers this season, Manning is one of the last standing. He also missed a ton of time, but in his 10 starts back, he’s had some bad but a fair amount of good. He has a 3.60 ERA in total in 55 innings with 49 hits allowed. He’s done a nice job of limiting walks with just 19 allowed but has just an 18.8 percent strikeout rate. He’s allowed three or fewer runs in seven of those 10 starts, but has pitched five or fewer innings in four of those starts. Manning’s fastball has been way more effective than you’d guess based on the location that very much in the center of the plate. He’s gotten a ton of whiffs on his slider, but his curve is going to eventually get hit if he keeps throwing it the way he has as he has gotten very lucky based on his expected stats allowed. He’s also likely benefiting from a much better than expected line allowed with runners in scoring position. He’s allowed a .691 OPS with the bases empty, but that drops significantly to .367 with runners in scoring position. It seems likely that won’t continue. He’s also done a surprisingly good job the third time through an order with a .120/.224/.200 line when seeing a lineup thrice. That also seems unlikely to continue.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 12.1 IP, 1-0, 3.65 ERA

September 29 - RHP Jonathan Heasley vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, 12:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jonathan Heasley 19 94.1 4 8 15.6% 10.6% 4.87 5.42 -0.4
Eduardo Rodriguez 15 78.1 4 5 18.4% 8.6% 4.37 4.43 0.7

Jonathan Heasley will be making his third start of the month against this Tigers team. The first one went well with two runs allowed over seven innings. The next was rough, though some of it might have had to do with the weather as that was the game they played through rain. But in his last two starts against Boston and a quitting Twins team, he’s thrown 12.2 innings with just four hits allowed. He’s allowed just one run on those two starts. It hasn’t been perfect. He still isn’t getting swings and misses and he’s still not throwing enough strikes, but he’s getting the job done and that’s what’s important in the short-term. What I’d like to see from him is to back off the four-seam fastball. His changeup has been pretty good, his slider has been very good and his curve has long been one of his calling cards. He would do well to cut a good chunk of his fastballs and add some of his breaking balls, but I’m interested in what the changeup would be if he threw that a little bit more and that could help him out with lefties, who he’s allowed an .860 OPS to this season.

Career vs. DET: 3 GS, 16.1 IP, 1-1, 4.96 ERA

It’s been a trying first season in Detroit for Eduardo Rodriguez. He spent months on the restricted list, and at some points it was reported that the Tigers had no contact with him. I’m not here to judge someone’s personal life, but that’s not ideal. On the field, he’s posting a better ERA than last season but because his home park is so much more pitcher-friendly, it’s far worse than average. He’s been…roughly fine this season. His fastball has been very effective with a .214 average allowed and a .306 SLG. His sinker has also been extremely effective. Thats aid, his cutter has been hit and so has his changeup. Left-handed hitters have absolutely destroyed Rodriguez. He’s allowed a .321/.403/.585 line to them. That does seem to be good for the Royals if they’re willing to play to his splits and not the traditional platoon.

Career vs. KC: 7 GS, 36.1 IP, 2-1, 5.20 ERA

Royals vs. Tigers Prediction

Boy, how do you predict a series like this? Both teams are actually playing well right now, which is kind of interesting. I think the Royals end up taking just one of three, but that’s enough to stave off the Tigers for the time being in the standings and to take the season series.


How many wins for the Royals in Detroit this week?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    (12 votes)
  • 61%
    (60 votes)
  • 20%
    (20 votes)
  • 5%
    (5 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now