This weekend’s four-game road series between the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays got off to a clunky start on Thursday night when the visitors fell to the hometown boys, 5-2, in a game that the good guys got beat by a superior bullpen. The good news is that the Tigers get three more tries to antagonize the American League East Division leaders.
Tonight, a pair of youngsters take the mound in what will probably be another game that is carried by the relief corps. Detroit sends its former No. 1 draft pick to the bump looking to put the final touches on an improved season while Tampa Bay has one of the Blake Snell trade pieces on the hill. Here is how the two match up.
Detroit Tigers (70-77) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (91-56)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Tropicana Field
SB Nation site: DRays Bay
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Casey Mize (7-8, 3.66 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Patiño (4-3, 4.62 ERA)
Game 148 Pitching Matchup
Casey Mize had himself a solid campaign during his second season in the big leagues, taking a big step forward from where he was last year. As the days remaining on the schedule wane so does his workload, having pitched only five total innings in his past two starts. The last time he saw the Rays — a mere six days ago — he got touched up for three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out two over two frames, requiring 48 pitches. Hopefully, his numbers will be better today but don’t expect to see him throw any more than 50 pitches maximum.
We also saw Luis Patiño recently last Sunday, when he faced off with Tarik Skubal in what ultimately became an 8-7 loss to the Olde English D. In my preview for that game, I provided an overview of his arsenal and proclivities, and the 21-year-old from Columbia pretty much lived up to his billing. Much like Mize, it appears that the Rays are tapering his workload as well, so it is likely that we will see a lot of the Tampa Bay bullpen today.
Key matchup: Battle of the Bullpens
Admittedly, this one does not favor the Tigers but given the fact that neither starting pitcher is expected to go deep into the game, it will be the relievers who decide the outcome of Friday night’s tangle in Tampa. What could tip the scales in Detroit’s favor is the fact that the Rays burned through six hurlers in the previous game with three more games left this weekend — even a Pyrrhic victory for the home team today could set the visitors up a couple of wins the following days. Hopefully, AJ Hinch has his eye on the long game.