Series Preview: Tigers host Seattle Mariners for three-game weekend set

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers return home to the comfortable confines of Comerica Park this weekend on the heels of a successful 4-2 road trip against the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Guardians, respectively. Now just two wins under .500 and sitting second place in the American League Central division — three games behind the Minnesota Twins and a half-game ahead of the Guardians — the Motor City Kitties turn their attention to the next opponent on the docket.

The Seattle Mariners arrive in the D on Friday for a three-game weekend series that lasts until Sunday, featuring a pair of day games after playing the opener under the stars. The Pacific Coast M’s have had a solid month of May thus far, sweeping the Oakland Athletics on the road before taking two of three from the Houston Astros at home. However, they limp into this series after dropping two of three at home to the Texas Rangers.

Take a look below at what is on tap this weekend in Detroit as a pair of teams hovering near the .500 mark do battle on the clay diamond. Here is how the pitching matchups look ahead of the action.

Detroit Tigers (17-19) vs. Seattle Mariners (18-19)

Times (EDT): Friday: 6:40 p.m.; Saturday: 1:10 p.m.; Sunday: 1:40 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Lookout Landing
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 37 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Boyd 30.2 20.9 8.2 4.68 0.3
Gonzales 30.2 17.6 8.4 4.16 0.4

Game 37: LHP Matthew Boyd (2-2, 5.28 ERA) vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (2-0, 4.70 ERA)

As the old saying goes, “Boyd will be Boyd.” OK, that is not exactly how the phrase goes but for the 32-year-old veteran, that has generally been the story in 2023. The left-hander continues to give the Tigers a few good innings before the third time through the order pounds him. However, in his last start against the Cards, he finally made it through the sixth inning, allowing three earned runs on five hits (one home run) and no walks while striking out six for his only quality start so far. Could he be finally turning the corner? We will see on Friday night against his former team.

Gonzales’ game log, as well as his advanced metrics, look very similar to Boyd’s though the 31-year-old hurler has been slightly better. Much like his opponent on the mound, the left-hander’s last outing against the Astros was his best effort this season, tossing six frames of three-run ball on six hits and three walks while striking out three for the quality start. The nine-year veteran gets by on a four-pitch arsenal headlined by his four-seam fastball (88.6 mph, 36.8%), changeup (79.5 mph, 29.3%), curveball (79.3 mph, 25.7%) and cutter (85.6 mph, 8.2%), according to Baseball Savant.

Game 38 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Faedo 4.2 5.6 0.0 8.45 -0.1
Miller 12.0 37.5 2.5 1.06 0.7

Game 38: RHP Alex Faedo (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHP Bryce Miller (1-0, 0.75 ERA)

Faedo’s first start of the 2023 campaign against St. Louis left a lot to be desired, but at the same time also gave the Tigers some much-needed innings after losing Matt Manning to the 60-day injured list. The line from his first start: 4 23 innings, three runs (two earned), three hits, zero walks, one strikeout and two home runs allowed. The 27-year-old out of Florida showed the same repertoire and proclivities he had last season in his first start, leading things off with his four-seam fastball (92.9 mph, 54.2%), followed by the slider (82.7 mph, 33.3%) and changeup (85.7 mph, 12.5%), according to Baseball Savant.

Miller has only started two games so far, but the 24-year-old has been lights out to open his rookie campaign in the big leagues. Both of his appearances have resulted in quality starts as well as team wins, and the youngster actually put up a negative FIP (-0.02) in his major league debut against the A’s. The former fourth-round pick has found his success thanks to a four-pitch arsenal that consists of a four-seam fastball (95.6 mph, 70.5%), slider (86.4 mph, 19.3%), curveball (81.3 mph, 9.0%) and changeup (87.6 mph, 1.2%), according to Baseball Savant.

Game 39 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Wentz 34.0 18.8 9.0 5.54 -0.1
Gilbert 40.1 31.4 5.0 2.71 1.3

Game 39: LHP Joey Wentz (1-3, 6.09 ERA) vs. RHP Logan Gilbert (1-2, 3.79 ERA)

Wentz is still struggling to find his footing in his second big league season, giving his team some useful innings but still falling short of what an average starter should be. Much like Boyd, the 25-year-old has struggled to put together a full six-inning effort in all his starts but one, in which he surrendered five runs in exactly six frames (including a trio of dingers) against the New York Mets in a game the Tigers ultimately won. The left-hander is among the 29th percentile or worse in Baseball Savant’s 2023 MLB Percentile Rankings — that will need to be improved upon as the season progresses.

Gilbert continues his solid pitching after a sophomore campaign that proved he belongs in the big leagues. So far in 2023, four of his seven outings have resulted in quality starts though his team has struggled to capitalize on his efforts. The 26-year-old’s most recent appearance against Texas saw him at peak performance, throwing 6 23 innings of two-run ball on three hits and a walk while striking out 10 batters — and no home runs. He likely presents the biggest challenge for the Tigers this weekend.

Series Outlook: Tough break for the rotation

The Mariners luck out this weekend by getting the backend of Detroit’s starting pitching, exposing the visceral underbelly of the home team’s jerry-rigged rotation. Facing Faedo instead of Eduardo can make a big difference in the overall series results — though similar could be said about the Tigers missing Luis Castillo’s turn for Seattle. If Boyd can build on his previous start while Wentz steps up his game a notch or three, then chalk up another series win for the Olde English D. But if Boyd gets bombed, Faedo gets hammered again and Wentz remains sub-mediocre, things can go wrong very quickly in Comerica Park.

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