Game 105 Preview: Matt Manning returns to the mound against the Twins

Bless You Boys

I have good news and bad news from last night for you all.

Let’s start with one bit of good news: Tarik Skubal has not made his final start as a Detroit Tiger.

He did, however, send Twitter into a five-minute frenzy of trade rumors when he left the game with just 77 pitches thrown and five shutout innings under his belt. When the dust settled, of course, it turned out that Skubal had informed A.J. Hinch that something did not feel right with his arm.

That, of course, is part of the bad news. “Arm fatigue” was the term tossed around prior to Casey Mize receiving Tommy John surgery, so it isn’t a term to be taken lightly. On the other hand, Beau Brieske’s arm fatigue was just a reason to give him a two week break. In this case, it does seem like Skubal will be good to go for his next turn in the rotation. At most, perhaps the Tigers will skip his next start to make sure he’s 100 percent. The other bit of bad news, obviously, is that the Tigers lost in extra innings after Skubal left the game, although, if you are officially on the Tank Train, that’s one game closer to the #1 overall pick.

We know, this feels gross. Really if there’s a takeaway here it’s just good to know that Tarik Skubal had a good head on his shoulders and didn’t try to tough it out in a lost cause of a season.

Another bit of news came in overnight when it was announced that outfielder Robbie Grossman has been traded to the Atlanta Braves.

As a longtime member of the Chris Fetter fan club—dating back to the days when my branch of SABR helped process analytics reports for Fetter and Juan Soto’s new hitting coach in San Diego, Michael Brdar—I am a fan of any guy that Chris Fetter believes in. With that said, this deal was negotiated by Al Avila, and I am still waiting patiently in my Jose King jersey.

It just occurred to me that a few of you might not even be aware that the largest transaction of player value in the history of baseball may have just occurred today. Yes, indeed — the San Diego Padres, fresh off of their mandatory series loss to the Detroit Tigers, have acquired Washington Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto.

Anyways! I could keep going with other news from around the horn, but hidden in this whirlwind of national baseball news is an intriguing local storyline that will interest those at Comerica Park more than any superstar 23-year-old outfielder ever could. 24-year-old Matt Manning will make his first start in 3.5 months today, and all eyes are on the former top prospect to see where his velocity, stamina, and arsenal stand as of today. Based on his rehab work at Toledo, he’s still a little short of his top velocity. This won’t be an easy assignment for Manning, as standing in Detroit’s way are the AL Central leading Twins.

Detroit Tigers (41-62) at Minnesota Twins (53-48)

Time/Place: 7:40 p.m. EDT/Target Field, Minneapolis, MN
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.tv, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Matt Manning (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Archer (2-4, 4.04 ERA)

Game 105 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Manning 8 3.74 13.8 0 1.13 2.8
Archer 69 4.98 18.1 12.4 1.17 0.1

Between 2014 and 2018, Chris Archer amassed nearly 20 career fWAR in an extremely productive period serving as the ace pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. Since that time, however, Archer has amassed just 1 fWAR between 2019 and 2022. While the underlying analytics do not expect much of Archer moving forward, his 4.04 ERA through 69 innings this season is his lowest ERA since 2016. Given his high walk rate and low strikeout rate, of course, he is due for a minimally competent lineup to feast on him one of these nights.

Manning, meanwhile, has amassed 1 fWAR in just 93 innings dating back to him joining the Tigers in 2021. Given every setback that Matt has had to face—he has faced COVID-19, injury, and general pandemic setbacks on his path to The Show—the fact that he has been as productive in just 93 innings as the once-great Archer has been since 2019 is a promising sign. Fingers crossed that he shows some encouraging signs for down the road tonight.

Anywho, enjoy the rest of the trade deadline, and make sure to hop into the game thread this evening to discuss Manning’s start and the deadline deals. Sadly it doesn’t look like there will be a whole lot to report on the Tigers’ front. Happy Tuesday!

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