Casey Mize earned his first major league victory on Monday night when he pitched seven innings of no-run ball allowing just two walks while striking out five. It was a fine performance for a team that had been struggling both on the mound and at the plate after the first ten games despite last season’s struggles. The rotation now turns over for the Tigers with a chance to clinch a series win against their American League Central foe.
Starting pitching has been slim for Detroit but Matthew Boyd has held strong through his first two outings. He is up against another veteran who has also struggled recently so anything can happen in this game. Here is a look at the matchup heading into Tuesday night’s tilt.
Detroit Tigers (4-6) at Houston Astros (6-4)
Time/Place: 8:10 p.m. EDT, Minute Maid Park
SB Nation site: The Crawfish Boxes
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (1-1, 2.13 ERA, 10 SO) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 11 Pitching Matchup
Matthew Boyd started his 2021 campaign on a strong note after starting the season with a win as Detroit’s opening day starter against Cleveland, and despite taking the loss, pitching a perfectly acceptable seven-innings in a loss to Minnesota in his second outing. Now in his third time through the rotation, the lefty strikeout specialists looks to battle the Houston Astros, who currently sit at third in MLB for fewest strikeouts per game.
As a whole, Boyd is looking to bounce back from a 2021 season that was not too kind to him. After a 2019 season that saw his strikeout rate reach a blistering 30.2 percent with a walk rate of just 6.3 percent — both career bests for a 23.9 K-BB percentage — Boyd’s numbers regressed rather significantly down to 22.1 and 8.1 percent, respectively. His numbers are even lower so far this season, but between small sample sizes and perhaps a slightly different approach, he is managing to hang tough so far.
On the opposite mound is Jake Odorizzi who has yet to throw a pitch in 2021 and only saw limited action last season. But in 2019 with the Minnesota Twins, he had a career year notching a 15-7 record along with a 3.51 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 3.36 FIP in 159 innings pitched, good for 4.3 fWAR. However, in the season following his high water mark, the veteran right-hander battled through multiple injuries and subsequently entered free agency after his contract with the Twinkies expired and headed to Houston.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Odorizzi started an exhibition game in Round Rock on Thursday against the Texas Rangers’ alternate training site players, allowing five hits and three earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. Those numbers are a bit of an improvement from his spring training performance, in which he put up a 15.75 ERA in two starts making it through only four total innings. He was extremely homerun-prone, giving up four while walking three and striking out four for a 3.00 WHIP. Yikes.
Key Matchup: Detroit batters vs the shell of Jake Ordorizzi
Look, it is not a secret that this Tigers offense is bad. Prior to Monday night’s game, the boys in the Olde English D were sporting a cryogenic .197 batting average and .268 on-base percentage — good for third- and second-worse in the majors so far. Meanwhile, their slugging percentage sits at a paltry .352 which is only fifth-worst in the big leagues. Since Boyd is facing a team that does not strike out much, he will have his own challenges on the hill and the least his bats can do is put some crooked numbers on the board in support. If there is anyone Detroit’s lineup can feast on right now, it is against a grizzled veteran struggling to regain his previous form. Of course with our luck, he will come out looking like a Cy Young candidate while Boyd-y catches homeritis… again.