Tigers at Royals Preview: Detroit tries to avoid the sweep behind Skubal

Bless You Boys

Well folks, the Detroit Tigers came into the weekend roaring on a seven-game winning streak but have been reduced to a soft meow over the past two games in Kansas City. Both losses were close ones, with Friday’s night’s matchup ending with a 5-3 score while Saturday night’s tangle saw the Tigers blow a 6-0 lead to lose 9-8. But as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and the two Ls count all the same at the end of the season.

On Sunday, Detroit hopes to prevent the weekend sweep and will rely on one of its young stud pitchers to lead them to the promised land. Kansas City, on the other hand, sends their top pitching prospect to the hill looking to avenge the Tigers’ sweep back in mid-June. Here is how the two hurlers stack up for today’s tilt.

Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., Kauffman Stadium
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tarik Skubal (6-8, 4.18 ERA) vs. LHP Daniel Lynch (0-2, 15.75 ERA)

Game 101 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 94.2 26.7 9.3 4.83 0.7
Lynch 8.0 15.2 10.9 4.92 0.1

Tarik Skubal has been having a bit of an up-and-down sophomore campaign in 2021, showing glimpses of brilliance while also getting shelled from time to time. After a two-month stretch over May and June that saw the 24-year-old put up a 3.23 ERA over 55 23 innings while striking out 76 against just 22 walks, July has not been quite as friendly to the southpaw. He gave up five runs in both of his first two games this month — only three earned in the second one — giving him an inflated 4.76 ERA with just 15 strikeouts but three home runs surrendered over 17 innings pitched. The good news is that his most recent outing against the Texas Rangers was among his better ones, going six frames allowing a solitary run on four hits while walking none and striking out four for his sixth win.

The Royals’ Daniel Lynch gets the call against Skubal, who like Tarik is a highly-heralded 24-year-old lefty making his way into the majors. However, KC’s Sunday starter has seen very limited action at the big league level, appearing in just three games this season — all starts — and so far failing to find any traction. His best MLB outing was his debut appearance in which he tossed 4 23 innings of three-run ball on four hits and four walks while striking out three over 74 pitches. His next two games were pretty yikes, starting with May 8 on which he gave up eight runs on seven hits, a walk and a dinger in 23 innings pitched against the Chicago White Sox.

His most recent major league game came on May 13 against the Tigers in Detroit, where he surrendered four runs — three earned — on seven hits while walking none and striking out four in 2 23 innings of work for the loss. Since then, he has been back in the minors working out his kinks putting up a 5.84 ERA in 12 appearances, recording 62 strikeouts and 18 walks over 57 innings at Triple-A Omaha. Despite the ugly ERA, Royals head coach Mike Matheny told the media that he had received good reports from Omaha pitching coach Dane Johnson on Lynch’s improvement.

Key Matchup: Detroit vs. negative momentum

It is pretty clear which team has the upper hand on paper coming into Sunday’s game, especially given the struggles of the Royals’ starting pitcher, but what the home team has on their side that the Tigers do not is the momentum. Both of the losses thus far were very winnable ones for Detroit but it still found a way to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. The good news is that manager A.J. Hinch has proven his mettle as the Old English D’s skipper this season and if anyone can get the players’ courses corrected, it is him. But do not discount the fact that the Monarchs are on a bit of a roll against Motor City Kitties — three of the four series played between the two teams this season have resulted in a sweep, and it could easily end up being four out of five at the end of the day.

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