The Tigers looks well on their way to their seventh consecutive losing season, and many fans likely felt the team would be further along their rebuild by now. Injuries have ravaged their pitching staff, but the front office also made a series of missteps that has led to a flawed roster, ultimately costing former general manager Al Avila his job last summer.
The Tigers played near .500 ball for the first two months, but a slump in June has put them back in the standings. Their pythagorean expectation is just 37-55, fourth-worst in baseball and just five wins better than the Royals. Still, they are only six games out of first place, and it’s not inconceivable they could make a late run at the division. They’re bad, but at least they’re not Royals-bad.
Detroit Tigers (41-51) vs. Kansas City Royals (27-67) at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Tigers: 3.88 runs scored/game (28th in MLB), 4.76 runs allowed/game (22nd)
Royals: 3.70 runs scored/game (29th in MLB), 5.38 runs allowed/game (28th)
This series will feature two of the three worst offenses in baseball. The Tigers lineup is a mix of all sorts of transactions that didn’t pan out for Detroit - free agent busts, disappointing high round picks, and trades that haven’t panned out. Big free agent Javier Báez has been the second-worst qualified hitter this year with a wRC+ of 45. Former #1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson has some excellent exit velocity this year but has been near replacement level overall. Nick Maton, acquired from the Phillies for Gregory Soto, has the worst batting average in baseball for anyone with 200 plate appearances.
Much of the rest of the lineup is full of journeymen the Tigers have scooped up like hitchhikers on the road to irrelevance. The Tigers have the fifth-fewest home runs and the second-fewest steals. They have the ninth-highest strikeout rate and are ninth-worst in Baserunning Runs. There is no aspect of offense they are remotely good at, they are a team without an identity.
Tigers lineup and bench
|3B Zach McKinstry (L)||294||6||12||.246||.322||.369||1.4|
|CF Riley Greene (L)||245||6||6||.299||.367||.448||1.7|
|1B Spencer Torkelson (R)||388||12||2||.229||.307||.397||0.1|
|DH Kerry Carpenter (L)||178||11||0||.274||.326||.537||1.2|
|RF Matt Vierling (R)||267||7||5||.272||.337||.407||0.7|
|SS Javier Báez||367||6||7||.220||.254||.321||0.3|
|2B Nick Maton||246||7||0||.163||.289||.298||-1.0|
|LF Akil Baddoo||185||4||6||.220||.326||.340||0.7|
|C Jake Rogers||190||11||0||.205||.296||.446||1.6|
|C Eric Haase (R)||237||3||3||.207||.253||.293||-0.8|
|1B Miguel Cabrera (R)||190||1||0||.251||.332||.329||-0.4|
|IF Andy Ibáñez||204||6||0||.231||.265||.410||0.3|
|IF Zack Short||139||4||1||0.208||0.281||0.336||-0.1|
The Tigers are still without pitchers Matthew Body, Casey Mize, and Spencer Turnbull, but they are starting to get some starters healthy. Matt Manning returned to action in late June after being out for over two months, and he tossed 6 2⁄3 innings as part of a no-hitter his last time out. Still, batters have been squaring up on him this year as he has a very high average exit velocity against and a very low chase rate.
Tarik Skubal has made just two starts since returning from flexor tendon surgery, but he has allowed just two hits with no runs allowed so far. The Tigers have limited him to just four innings of work in his first two outings this year, but his velocity has been up to 96 mph this year.
Eduardo Rodriguez has been a bright spot for the Tigers after missing a lot of time last year for personal reasons. He missed some time due to a finger injury, but among starters with at least 70 innings pitched, he is fourth in baseball in ERA, and he has the 14th-best strikeout-to-walk ratio. Michael Lorenzen was the lone Tigers All-Star, and could be a trade candidate over the next few weeks, despite one of the lowest strikeout rates among starters.
Expected pitching matchups
|Monday, July 17 - 7:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|Monday, July 17 - 7:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Matt Manning||3.72||5.15||29.0||6.2||3.1||0.0|
|RHP Jordan Lyles||6.42||5.51||96.2||6.4||2.8||0.2|
|Tuesday, July 18 - 7:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|LHP Tarik Skubal||0.00||1.66||8.0||12.4||2.3||0.3|
|LHP Daniel Lynch||4.18||4.85||47.1||5.9||2.7||0.4|
|Wednesday, July 19 - 7:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|LHP Eduardo Rodriguez||2.70||3.27||76.2||9.5||2.1||1.8|
|LHP Ryan Yarbrough||5.29||4.61||32.1||5.3||2.2||0.2|
|Thursday, July 20 - 1:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Michael Lorenzen||3.75||4.12||93.2||7.0||2.4||1.1|
|RHP Alec Marsh||5.40||6.62||15.0||12.6||4.8||-0.2|
The Tigers bullpen has been in the middle of the league in performance with a 3.98 ERA overall, although they have the fourth-lowest walk rate. Kansas City native Alex Lange has really struggled lately after a hot start, walking 14 batters and allowing 16 runs in 13 1⁄3 innings over his last 14 outings. Jason Foley has had a breakout season, with the tenth-lowest walk rate among relievers.
|RHP Alex Lange||4.30||4.00||37.2||11.5||6.0||0.1|
|RHP Jason Foley||2.29||2.06||39.1||8.2||1.6||1.3|
|RHP José Cisnero||3.34||4.11||35.0||9.5||3.6||0.2|
|LHP Chasen Shreve||4.54||4.26||33.2||9.1||2.9||0.1|
|LHP Tyler Holton||1.84||3.51||49.0||7.9||2.6||0.5|
|RHP Brendan White||4.70||4.65||15.1||10.6||2.9||-0.1|
|RHP Beau Briske||0.00||-1.22||1.1||20.3||0.0||0.1|
|RHP Mason Englert||4.19||5.46||53.2||6.7||2.7||-0.6|
The Tigers haven’t played that well this year, but they do have some promising players that have not yet reached their potential. The team hired Scott Harris from the Giants last year to run the team, and as he makes his mark on the club, the team could show improvement. But even if they don’t improve much, it turns out you don’t even have to play very well to stay in contention in the Central Division.
How will the Royals fare in their series against the Tigers?
This poll is closed
Royals sweep 4-0
Royals take 3 of 4
Series split 2-2
Tigers take 3 of 4