Series Preview: Tigers hit the road to face Cardinals in St. Louis for three-game set

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers are flying high following their three-game sweep of the visiting New York Mets at Comerica Park this week. Not only did the Motor City Kitties take a trio from the franchise with the most money sunk into player contracts but they also defeated a pair of former Tigers who are Hall of Fame-bound in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Not too shabby for a team that everyone had written off after losing three of four to the Baltimore Orioles.

The team now hits the road, traveling out to the Gateway to the West to take on the St. Louis Cardinals inside Busch Stadium this weekend. The Cards limp into this one riding a six-game losing streak having lost 12 of their last 13 games — including a recent pair of sweeps at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers. That puts them at the bottom of the National League Central division 10 games out of first and 3.5 games out of fourth place.

With the Tigers hitting their stride and the Cardinals struggling mightily, Detroit might be able to string together a few more wins this weekend. Take a look below at how the pitching matchups shake out the next three days.

Detroit Tigers (13-17) at St. Louis Cardinals (10-22)

Times (EDT): Friday: 8:15 p.m.; Saturday: 2:15 p.m.; Sunday: 2:15 p.m.
Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
SB Nation Site: Viva El Birdos
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 31 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Boyd 24.2 20.0 10.0 5.02 0.2
Montgomery 35.0 21.3 5.3 2.67 1.2

Game 31: LHP Matthew Boyd (1-2, 5.47 ERA) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-4, 3.34 ERA)

Boyd continues to be Boyd, though in his last outing he gave up an uncharacteristic four-spot in the second inning before AJ Hinch left him out for the sixth. The 32-year-old veteran promptly coughed up a pair of runs which turned out to be the difference-maker in the 6-4 loss to the Orioles in Detroit. Also, after making it through his first two games without allowing a dinger, he has served up four in the last three games as he regresses back to his homer-prone form.

Montgomery represents the biggest threat to the Tigers this weekend. The 30-year-old has had a really solid season so far save for one outlier game in which the Arizona Diamondbacks pummeled him for seven earned runs in four innings. However, if you Porcello out that game, he has thrown four quality starts in six appearances and gave up more than two runs only in his season-opener when he allowed three. The veteran has only allowed one home run in 35 innings for a minuscule HR/9 rate of 0.3.

Game 32 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Turnbull 26.1 14.6 11.4 5.41 0.0
Wainwright (2022) 191.2 17.8 6.7 3.66 2.8

Game 32: RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-4, 6.84 ERA) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (2022: 11-12, 3.71 ERA)

Turnbull has had trouble turning the page on his return from Tommy John surgery. While his recent results have not been terrible, the 30-year-old has only been able to get through four frames in his last two starts allowing a pair of earned runs in both. His pitching proclivities are about the same as his pre-surgical approach, but the Red Bull is still missing a tick off his pitches velocity-wise. The former second-round pick ranks in the 81st percentile in fastball spin, according to Baseball Savant’s 2023 MLB Percentile Rankings, counterbalanced by six categories in which he ranks in the 30th or lower percentile.

Wainwright gets his first start of the 2023 campaign on Saturday after recovering from a groin strain sustained during a weight room workout ahead of Team USA’s World Baseball Classic championship game vs. Japan in March. The 41-year-old is well past his prime and continues to deal with diminishing velocity — a fact of life at that age for most. In 2022, his curve spin was in the 86th percentile while landing in the 61st or higher percentile in six other categories; his whiff percentage, however, was in the first percentile last season.

Game 33 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Matz 31.0 22.0 10.6 5.32 0.0

Game 33: TBD vs. LHP Steven Matz (0-4, 6.39 ERA)

No pitcher has been listed to start for the Tigers on Sunday as of the time of publication.

Matz has struggled to keep his head above water so far in 2023, losing four out of his six starts while his team has gone winless in every one of his outings. The 31-year-old’s last start was pretty much a paragon of his futility, tossing five frames of four-run ball on six hits (one home run) and two walks while striking out four against the Angels. The veteran left-hander gets by on a four-pitch arsenal consisting of his sinker (93.6 mph, 54.5%), changeup (83.6 mph, 25.3%), curveball (78.4 mph, 16.8%) and slider (88.4 mph, 3.5%), respectively.

Series Outlook: Tigers should feast on these birds

I do not want to jinx things — especially considering the outcome of the Mets series in light of my prediction — but there is no reason the Tigers cannot take two of three from the struggling birds. The caveat is that while the offense has come alive in recent days, Detroit is still last in the majors in team OPS (.643) and 26th in home runs (26) along with plenty of other embarrassing stats at the plate. But if the pitching can continue to hold up and the hitting finds a way to break through against the Cards… well heck, I cannot see why the good guys cannot come away victoriously this weekend.

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