The Detroit Tigers stumbled out of the gates in its four-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals, dropping the first game 6-2 on Friday night. Casey Mize was anything but mighty against the KC onslaught, allowing all six runs in 4 2⁄3 innings in his first rough outing after two sparkling performances to start 2021. Homerunitis struck the Tiger’s highly-heralded prospect to the tune of three dingers — his first home runs surrendered this season — and doomed the team to yet another loss.
Yesterday’s results are in the past and the team now looks to even things up against its American League Central-leading rivals, who currently have a 1.5 game lead over the Chicago White Sox entering play on Saturday. Here is a look at the pitching matchup — which should be a good one.
Detroit Tigers (7-13) vs. Kansas City Royals (11-7)
Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park Park
SB Nation site: Royals Review
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (2-1, 2.03 ERA) vs. RHP Brady Singer (0-2, 3.77 ERA)
Game 21 Pitching Matchup
Last time out against the Oakland Athletics, Matt Boyd threw a quality start that was unfortunately wasted on a 3-2 loss en route to a four-game west coast sweep. The veteran lefthander threw 7 1⁄3 innings allowing four hits and two earned runs — including his first home run allowed this season — along with just one walk issued against five strikeouts on just 94 pitches. That level of production and efficiency will give the Tigers a chance to win every time.
As the season wears on and the sample size increases, it has become more and more apparent that Boyd’s new approach that relies less on the strikeout and more on pitching to contact is a winning formula. Taking a look at Baseball Savant’s numbers, he has been able to excel in a few important areas of concern, including average exit velocity and barrel percentage — both important indicators that his home run suppression tendencies this season could be real and not just a mirage.
Coupled with a career-best walk rate which has contributed to his minuscule 0.98 WHIP, .208 batting average against and .250 batting average on balls in play — despite the numbers screaming for regression — the real Matt Boyd might be finally standing up.
Kansas City sends its young stud hurler Brady Singer to the mound opposite of Boyd on Saturday. The Royals’ first-round draft pick in 2018 out of the University of Florida has been fairly impressive so far in his sophomore campaign despite his 0-2 record for the leaders of the Al Central. His last start was his best in 2021, throwing six innings of shutout ball against the Toronto Blue Jays, helping his team eke out a 2-0 win despite not figuring in the decision. Allowing just two hits and three walks while collecting six strikeouts over 90 pitches, he showed exactly why he was so highly-touted coming out of college.
Where Singer has excelled this season is in his suppression of barrels, ranking in the 85th percentile among major leaguers while also sitting in the 82nd percentile for fastball velocity — a sinker that averages 94.8 mph — and his hard-hit percentage which lies in the 75th percentile. However, when he does get hit, he gets crushed, sitting in the 9th percentile for maximum exit velocity and in the 34th percentile for average exit velocity; Singer also lags behind in whiff percentage as well, sitting in the 32nd percentile.
Key matchup: Tigers offense vs Brady Singer
If the stats and trends above hold true this could be one heck of a pitcher’s duel, but Tigers fans know better than that. The Motor City Kitties are currently the third-worse team in the majors when it comes to scoring runs and fifth-worse in runs batted in before Friday night’s game, along with MLB’s sixth-worst batting average at .215. However, they do rank third in the big leagues in pitches seen per plate appearance, but what they have done with those extra pitches is another story.
The Tigers rank 3rd in all of MLB in pitches seen per plate appearance (4.05). However:
3-0 counts – 3.2% (30th)
2-0 counts – 11.1% (30th)
3-1 counts – 6.9% (29th)
BB rate – 7.4% (26th)
K rate – 27.6% (26th)
— Detroit Tigers Minor League Tracker (@Tiger_Lifer) April 23, 2021
Mind you, though they have dropped quite a bit in the last week, the Tigers still rank tenth in home runs with 23 and given that Singer’s weakness is the hard-hit ball, it is incumbent upon the offense to get something going by doing more than just grinding way. Otherwise, another one of Boyd’s gems will likely be wasted — just like last week.