I hope that win last Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox did not tease you too much, because it has been slim pickings since then for the Detroit Tigers. They have been pounded mercilessly in their last two outings against those same Bad Sox as well as the New York Yankees in the first game of this weekend’s three-game tilt in the Big Apple, and for the love of all that is good and right, the boys in the Olde English D need score another win soon, lest the fanbase gets too irate.
Saturday afternoon might be a good chance for the Tigers to turn things around on the back of their stud the Red Bull, who has been one of the best pitchers on the staff over the past few years. While the opposing pitcher appears to be prone to some rough outings, it will take an effort both on the mound and in the batter’s box to beat the AL East bottom-dwellers. Here is a look at the matchups.
Detroit Tigers (8-19) at New York Yankees (12-14)
Time/Place: 1:05 p.m. EDT, Yankee Stadium
SB Nation site: Pinstripe Alley
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV,, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-1, 3.27 ERA) vs RHP Jameson Taillon (0-2, 6.23 ERA)
Game 28 Pitching Matchup
The Tigers send Spencer Turnbull to the mound for his third start of the season after an impressive win to open his 2021 campaign against the Pittsburgh Pirates and a tough loss in his last outing against the Kansas City Royals. The 28-year-old righty now gets tested by a Yankees offense that ranks fourth in the majors in home runs (34) as of Friday that can put a hurting on him if he is not careful.
Looking at his overall numbers so far in limited playing time, the Red Bull rates well in Baseball Savant’s 2021 MLB Percentile Rankings. His ability to avoid walks has him in the 85th percentile, while he also has five other categories where he ranks well above par, as seen in the graphic below.
As you can see, Turnbull is doing a great job when it comes to keeping the batters off balance and the basepaths, but when they do make contact, things have gotten ugly. The StatCast numbers have his maximum exit velocity in the third percentile among MLB players — likely on the home run he surrendered last time out to KC’s Carlos Santana. Otherwise, his five-pitch repertoire, led by his four-seam that clocks at 93.1 mph followed by his 85 mph slider, 94.1 mph sinker, 79.1 mph curveball and 85.7 mph changeup have been enough to keep opposing batters at bay in his first two outings.
For the Yankees, fourth-year right-hander Jameson Taillon takes the mound. The back-of-the-rotation starter gets sandwiched between prior Cy Young Award candidates Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber for this series despite not been particularly remarkable in 2021. Nonetheless, he comes into the game with unspectacular traditional numbers, plus he has only made it through five innings once in four starts — in his best outing this season coming against the Atlanta Braves on April 20. However, the advanced metrics say otherwise.
The 29-year-old former Pittsburgh Pirate features a four-pitch repertoire that predominately relies on his 93.5 mph four-seamer — which he employs just a hair over half the time — along with an 87.8 mph slider, 81.1 mph curveball and 86.9 mph changeup, which he uses respectively. His peripherals according to Baseball Savant are rather impressive despite his meager traditional stats, as seen below.
Overall, Taillon has excelled in a majority of the percentile categories, with his fastball and curve spin rates perhaps sticking out the most — though his walk rate in the 94th percentile cannot be ignored either. He has not done terribly well as far as making bats miss his pitches, but save for one instance that skews his maximum exit velocity ranking, his average EV and barrel percentages are… not great, not terrible and are buoyed by a perfectly fine hard-hit percentage overall. These numbers are anything but music for the ears of Tigers fans going into Saturday’s tilt.
Key Matchup: Tigers vs. their negative momentum
Over the past week, my colleagues and I have toiled over this portion of the preview looking for anything we can muster to envision a road map for a Tigers win. But let us all be honest with ourselves — there are so many flaws with this current team that it does not matter whether one of our hitters matches up with a pitcher well or that our starting pitcher has some arcane edge on the opponent that it has become an exercise of futility rivaled only by Sisyphus’ eternal struggle pushing that boulder up the hill. There are only so many ways to say, “Score runs, prevent runs,” and this Detroit team is running out of angles. So today, the team needs to transcend the tangibles and figure out a way to muster a win by any means necessary. The team really needs to get some positive momentum back on their side.