Series Preview: Tigers head to Great White North to face Toronto Blue Jays

Bless You Boys

It has been a rough start for the Detroit Tigers, who opened the season with a series win against the Houston Astros sandwiched between a pair of sweeps by the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, respectively. While we are merely nine games into the 2023 schedule and nearly two months away from the official start of summer, the natives are already getting restless as the Motor City Kitties face their seventh-straight losing season.

To make matters worse, AJ Hinch’s team is the second-worst among MLB teams in run differential sporting a scruffy minus-35 mark after the first three series, with only the Oakland A’s standing between them and the cellar. It is pretty easy to see why there is so much concern about the Olde English D right now.

Next up for the Tigers are the Toronto Blue Jays, who play host over the next three games in the Great White North. Take a look below at what is in store for Detroit’s cross-border battle.

Detroit Tigers (2-7) at Toronto Blue Jays (6-4)

Times (EDT): Tuesday: 7:07 p.m.; Wednesday: 7:07 p.m.; Thursday 7:07 p.m.
Place: Rogers Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
SB Nation Site: Bluebird Banter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 10 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Manning 5.2 17.4 8.7 5.34 0.0
Manoah 10.1 17.0 12.8 6.40 -0.1

Game 10: RHP Matt Manning (1-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Alek Manoah (1-0, 4.35 ERA)

Manning looked solid in his 2023 debut against the Astros last week, allowing two earned runs on six hits, two walks and a home run while striking out four to earn the win. The 25-year-old’s fastball averaged 92.6 mph — still down slightly from last year’s 93.2 mph and the year prior’s 93.5 mph averages. He did not use his sinker at all but otherwise utilized his arsenal as he typically does.

Manoah, now in his third big-league season, has had mixed results in his first two starts of the season. In his opening game, the former All-Star and Cy Young candidate was chased after allowing five earned runs on nine hits, two walks and two home runs while striking out three in 3 13 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, he bounced back against the Kansas City Royals, hurling a seven-inning gem in which he shut out the opposition on just one hit and four walks while striking out five for the win.

Game 11 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 10.0 14.0 9.3 7.30 -0.2
Gausman 12.0 27.5 5.9 1.81 0.6

Game 11: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 6.30 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 0.00 ERA)

Both of Rodriguez’s games so far have been subpar, with his loss to the Rays suffering from some bad luck while his defeat at the hands of Houston was just a bad day at the park. While his velocities and proclivities are pretty close to what we saw last season, Statcast currently has him in the bottom 3% of the league in maximum exit velocity — an issue that surfaced back in 2018 when he was still a steady presence for the BoSox. Still, it appears that the veteran hurler needs a little more time to get it goin’.

Gausman, on the other hand, is already in midseason form for the Jays. The 11-year veteran has tossed six innings in each of his two starts so far, allowing three unearned runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven against the Cards in his season debut. He blanked the Royals in his second game on four hits and two walks while once again sending down seven on strikes.

Game 12 Pitcher Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Turnbull 8.0 10.0 12.5 6.65 -0.1
Bassitt 9.1 11.1 11.1 10.90 -0.4

Game 12: RHP Spencer Turnbull (0-2, 13.50 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Bassitt (1-1, 10.61 ERA)

Turnbull has struggled in the majors since his return from Tommy John surgery as he appears to still be looking to regain his touch. The fifth-year pitcher was blasted by the Rays who scored seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three over 2 13 innings to take the loss. He did look a little bit better against Boston, albeit once again in a losing effort, lasting 5 13 innings while allowing five earned runs on five hits, two walks and a home run, striking out just one batter.

Bassitt has also had some issues in the early going, giving a Jekyll and Hyde performance to start the campaign. Against St. Louis, the nine-year veteran surrendered nine earned runs on 10 hits — but no walks or strikeouts — while serving up four home runs in 3 13 innings. In the following game against the Los Angeles Angels, the pendulum swung back as he threw a quality start over six frames, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits, five walks and a home run, while striking out five for the win.

Series Outlook: Gotta win at least one

It is still way too early to have a sense of urgency, but the Tigers really do need to prevent the morale-murdering sweeps we have already seen twice. Toronto is a good team but they are not unbeatable — even on their home turf — and while its pitching staff is also rather robust, there are still some cracks that can be exploited. The Game 2 matchup is the most unfavorable of the three this week, but the other two could be very interesting if Detroit can plate some runs.

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