It has been nearly a month since the Tigers swept the Astros to get back to .500, and the good news since then has been sparse. This past weekend was the first time since then that Detroit did not lose a series (thanks, rain!), and there is now a chance to make it two in a row against the heavily slumping Royals, who have dropped eight straight after once leading the division.
Matthew Boyd returns after exiting a start two weeks ago with a knee issue. Adam Dubbin had some good thoughts on him from Sunday’s rained-out preview:
Matthew Boyd…appears to finally be rounding into form after years of lofty — but unmet — expectations. The formula for his rebound so far in 2021 has clearly been the change in focus from strikeouts to pitching to weak contact. While his K rate is the lowest since his debut season in 2015, his walk rate has also reached a career low, which has resulted in a sparkling 2.94 FIP.
The secret to Boyd’s success hinges on his ability to induce weak contact while also getting batters to chase his pitches…Opposing hitters are batting .202 against him — even keeping in mind that offense around the league has been suppressed, this is still an impressive number that screams for regression — and he has put up a 0.93 WHIP. It is pretty simple logic that if runners are not getting on base and knocking hits, you are going to do well as a pitcher.
Detroit Tigers (10-24) vs. Kansas City Royals (16-17)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (2-3, 2.27 ERA) vs. RHP Brady Singer (1-3, 3.41 ERA)
Game 35 Pitching Matchup
After promoting the former first-rounder in 2020, the Royals look like they have found something good in young Brady Singer. The 24-year-old has started the season well and has a hold on a rotation spot for the foreseeable future. Singer throws his 94 mph sinker and 85 mph slider almost exclusively, gets his share of strikeouts, but really succeeds by keeping the ball in the park and on the ground. His season debut was disastrous with five earned runs over 3 ⅓ innings, but since then he has pitched to a 2.10 ERA and 2.91 FIP.
Like Boyd, Singer was quickly removed after getting hurt in a start recently, taking a comebacker off the foot. However, he wound up not needing to miss any time and pitched fine last Wednesday against Cleveland, though he did fall victim to some questionable decisions by Angel Hernandez. Singer is not a dominant strikeout pitcher, but he does a good job getting outs, and that should be enough for Kansas City right now. He certainly should be able to take care of this Tigers lineup.
Key matchup: Detroit baserunning vs. standing still
When a team is struggling at the plate, it makes sense to help out the offense as much as possible, and for the Tigers that means being more aggressive on the basepaths. Last year’s team stole just 19 bases (0.32 SB/G), ranking near the bottom of the league. This number has already improved to 0.47 SB/G in 2021, putting the team in the middle of the rankings.
However, the last week has been even more promising, with the Tigers recording seven steals — over just six games! — which is the second-best total in the entire MLB during that span. Those numbers are mostly due to Robbie Grossman and Niko Goodrum, but there is no reason (aside from getting on base) that players like JaCoby Jones, Akil Baddoo, and Willi Castro cannot add to this aggressiveness as well. The green light should nearly always be on for a team like this.