Game 89 Preview: Tigers looking to split series with Royals

Bless You Boys

The All-Star Break is quickly approaching but the Detroit Tigers still have to wrap up a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals and deal with the Cleveland Guardians before they get some rest. The Tigers put an end to a four-game skid Tuesday night with a 7-5 win at Kauffman Stadium, and now they have a chance to even the current series and the season-long matchup which currently sits at 4-5 in favor of the Royals.

On the bump for Detroit will be Tarik Skubal, who picked up his first win since June 7 against the White Sox last week. Skubal had at least four shaky outings (depending on your definition) between those two victories, though, so this isn’t exactly the Tigers’ game to lose. However, Skubal started Detroit’s April 15 game in Kansas City and gave up just one unearned run in 5 and 23 innings while striking out seven. If he can build on that performance, the Tigers should have a good shot at taking this one.

The problem is the Royals are throwing Brady Singer and he struck out nine Tigers just 10 days ago in a no-decision that Kansas City eventually won. That said, Singer hasn’t really blown anyone else away in the last month. In fact, his ERA has crept up from 2.49 at the end of May to around the 4.25-4.30 range.

Detroit Tigers (37-51) at Kansas City Royals (34-53)

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 (6-7, 3.99 ERA) vs. Brady Singer (3-3, 4.25 ERA)

Game 89 pitching matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 94.2 25.2 6.5 3.12 2.2
Singer 65.2 23.4 4.8 4.15 0.7

Skubal has the edge in most of the statistical comparisons, and he ranks higher in most of the Baseball Savant’s percentile rankings. One thing to note about Singer is that he’s been able to control most of his pitches better than he ever has. His walk rate is at a career-low 4.8%, which is nearly half of what it was the last two years. That’s good enough to crack the 90th percentile in the MLB, and the Tigers will have to put the ball in play to beat him today.

Singer is a sinker-slider guy who works in the changeup against lefties. His sinker sits about 94 mph and the slider drops to 85 mph. He’s prone to giving up the long ball with 10 so far on the year and gets hit pretty hard… just not by the Tigers.

Akil Baddoo returned to the active roster and lineup last night and picked up two hits and an RBI. It has to feel nice to come back and contribute immediately after struggling so mightily at the beginning of the season. A healthy and active Baddoo could help spark the team the same way Riley Greene’s call-up did, and no one here is complaining if there’s another six-game win streak in the works (knocks on wood immediately).

Also, Miggy’s speed seems to have picked up, so he should have the green light to be a menace on the basepaths for the rest of the year.

Key Matchup: Tigers need to get to Singer

Whatever happens in this one, the Tigers need to make it their mission not to fan nine times or more against Singer. He’s worse against lefties and the Tigers have a good one at the top of the order in Riley Greene. A patient approach by him and Victor Reyes, who is a switch hitter that likes to face righties, could lead to early gains for the team.

Baddoo could be a sneaky left-handed bat late in the lineup too in this matchup. If Singer makes it to the sixth or seventh, that’s where he tends to run out of gas and implode. His ERA is 9.00 in the sixth and 11.12 in the seventh innings on the year, so the Tigers really just need to be patient and wait for a ball in the zone to hit. A game of attrition, if you will.

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