The Detroit Tigers wrapped up a modestly successful west coast road swing over the past week with a win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday afternoon, 3-2, thanks to a two-run bomb by Eric Haase and a solid start from Rony “The San Francisco Treat” Garcia to split the two-game series in the Golden City. That paired with taking two out of three from the Arizona Diamondbacks gave the Olde English D a 3-2 record over that stretch, which is not too shabby for this team. Of course, we are not going to talk about getting swept by the Boston Red Sox at Fenway to start the eight-game road trip.
The Tigers now return home for a seven-game stretch against two American League Central rivals, starting with the Kansas City Royals this weekend. While the home team has yet to officially announce their starter for Friday night’s affair, there is a good bet it will be Alex Faedo, who last threw on June 25, but Tyler Alexander or Wily Peralta could also be options. What we do know is that KC will send a pitcher to the mound who is regaining his footing in the big leagues after a rough 2021 campaign. Here is what we know so far.
Detroit Tigers (29-45) vs Kansas City Royals (27-47)
Game 75 Pitching Matchup
The Tigers saw Brad Keller once before this season way back on April 15 in Kansas City, when the good guys outlasted the home team in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel that saw KC’s starter throw seven innings of two-run ball on three hits, two walks and a dinger while striking out five. That start was probably his third-best this season but he has not gone any deeper than seven frames in any of his 14 starts and has yet to hit the 100-pitch threshold, but nonetheless, the right-hander has given a struggling Royals team a good deal of quality innings this season.
The 26-year-old gets by on a four-pitch repertoire featuring a slider (86.9 mph), four-seam fastball (93.8 mph), sinker (93.1 mph) and changeup (89.7 mph), which he uses 35.9%, 31.5%, 26.5% and 6.2% of the time, respectively, according to Baseball Savant. After a 2021 campaign that saw his xSLG in the bottom 4% of the league, along with an xBA in the bottom 3% and his xwOBA, xwoBACON and xERA all in the bottom 1%, Keller has shown some improvements with just his K% and Whiff% in the bottom 10% of the league out of Statcast’s pitching statistical categories.
Key Matchup: Offense vs. Keller
At the time of publication, the home team’s starter remains unknown but what we do know is that the man heading to the bump for KC is fully capable of taming the Tigers. His quality start earlier this season does not appear to be an anomaly, as he threw seven innings of one-hit, no-run ball on the road against the Oakland Athletics, striking out six in his penultimate appearance before today. However, Dr. Jekyll appears to have a Mr. Hyde side given that in his most recent start — also against the A’s — he got bombed at home to the tune of five runs (four earned) over 3 2⁄3 innings, allowing eight hits and two walks while striking out four. If the evil doppelgänger shows up today, the Tigers should have a good chance at opening up the weekend series with a win.