Tigers vs. White Sox preview: It’s time to get Funky in Detroit

Bless You Boys

Yesterday’s game between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox was an ugly affair, with the good guys getting pummeled at home to the tune of 15-2. Although the team finally managed to score a run against Dylan Cease for the first time this season — in the first inning, no less — José Ureña easily had his worst outing of 2021, giving up eight runs in 1 23 innings. Meanwhile, the injury bug continues to chomp away at Detroit’s pitching staff, necessitating the use of not just one but two position players on the mound to wrap up Saturday’s blowout.

The loss also dropped the boys in the Olde English D back into the American League Central Division cellar, tying them with the Minnesota Twins.

Sunday, the Tigers hope to turn the page and prevent a series sweep at the hands of the division-leading ChiSox but it will be nothing short of an uphill battle. Still suffering from a shortage of starting pitching, an untested arm gets the call on what will likely be a bullpen day for Detroit while Chicago sends one of their best to the mound.

Detroit Tigers (26-38) vs. Chicago White Sox (40-24)

Time/Place: 1:10 pm, Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: South Side Sox
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Kyle Funkhouser (0-2, 3.69) vs. LHP Carlos Rodón (5-2, 1.96 ERA)

Game 65 Pitching Matchups

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Funkhouser 16.2 20.9 10.0 3.69 0.2
Rodón 59.2 37.1 6.3 2.51 2.1

Kyle Funkhouser will get his first career major league start for the Tigers after serving in a relief role over his brief tenure the past couple of seasons. While technically a “start” in the box score, his role will likely be that of the nascent opener strategy where he pitches through the order once around and then gives way to the bullpen. But given the workload the relief corps has been under, A.J. Hinch could conceivably stretch him as far as he can go.

In 16 23 innings pitched this season, the 27-year-old has done well in his relief role, putting up solid traditional numbers including a 1.02 WHIP while allowing just a single home run. He gets by using a four-pitch arsenal headlined by his sinker (95.4 mph) that he uses just under half the time, along with his slider (86.3 mph) that gets used a little over 28 percent, four-seam fastball (95.6 mph) at 15 percent and changeup (89.2 mph) at eight percent usage. His fastball velocity is among the 79th percentile according to Baseball Savant, though his fastball spin rate is a meager 6th percentile pitch. Nonetheless, there is some potential for positive results with his repertoire and that will hopefully translate into success against Chicago.

Speaking of the Sox, Carlos Rodón faces the Tigers for the second time this season. His first appearance came on April 29 when he tossed six innings allowing a run on just two hits and a walk while striking out 12 on 96 pitches to earn the win. Since then, with the exception of a couple of blips, the 28-year-old continues to dominate major league batters striking out 52 in 34 23 innings while allowing 31 hits, 11 runs and issuing just eight walks over six appearances. In his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, the left-hander threw six innings of one-run ball, walking two and striking out eight. Rodón presents a significantly difficult challenge for the Tigers on Sunday, to say the least.

Key Matchup: Tigers vs the Human Body

After starting the season in relatively good health, the injury bug has bitten the Tigers hard over the past week starting with Spencer Turnbull’s forearm strain. Since then, Detroit has seen four more pitchers head to the injured list along with three position players — four if you include Jeimer Candelario, who was reinstated Sunday morning from the bereavement list but remains on the IL due to COVID testing protocols. Given the matchup on the mound, if the team can simply make it through the game without any injuries, that in itself could be considered a win.

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