Series Preview: Tigers host the Pittsburgh Pirates for two-game midweek set

Bless You Boys

It was a weekend to forget for Detroit Tigers fans as the Motor City Kitties dropped two of three at home to the visiting Seattle Mariners, dropping them back into third place in the American League Central division a half-game behind the Cleveland Guardians and three-and-a-half behind the Minnesota Twins. However, the season is still young and there are plenty more games to play before all is said and done.

AJ Hinch’s squad now turns its attention to the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, who trail the Milwaukee Brewers by a game for the lead in the National League Central division after getting off to a solid start. The Bucs most recently dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles as the American League East continues to terrorize the rest of the major league circuit.

Pittsburgh will only be in town for a pair of games starting on Tuesday evening and wrapping up Wednesday afternoon in a quick turnaround for the visiting Pirates. Take a look below at what is on tap for both teams as far as the pitching matchups are concerned.

Detroit Tigers (18-21) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (22-19)

Times (EDT): Tuesday: 6:40 p.m.; Wednesday: 1:10 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Bucs Dugout
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 40 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Lorenzen 28.0 16.4 6.0 4.20 0.3
Ortiz 5.0 4.2 4.2 4.54 0.0

Game 40: RHP Michael Lorenzen (1-2, 4.18 ER) vs. RHP Luis L. Ortiz (0-1, 3.60 ERA)

Lorenzen’s last two outings were absolute beauties, tossing seven frames of one-run ball in both to earn both a win (8-1, vs. New York Mets) and a loss (2-0, vs. Guardians). Despite the L, the 31-year-old who has spent most of his career coming out of the bullpen has impressed of late employing a seven-pitch arsenal that features a fastball spin that is in the 87th percentile among major league pitchers, per Baseball Savant.

Ortiz gets the second call of the season after making his 2023 debut against the Colorado Rockies on May 9. The 23-year-old was a victim of some bad luck as he allowed five runs (two earned) over five innings of work, giving up seven hits (one home run) and a walk while striking out one in the loss. The second-year hurler gets by on a four-pitch arsenal led off by his sinker (96.5 mph, 37.8%), four-seam fastball (97.0 mph, 25.7%), slider (86.9 mph, 25.7%) and changeup (90.6 mph, 10.8%), per Baseball Savant, which represents a significantly higher sinker use than last season — albeit in a small sample size.

Game 41 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 51.2 24.7 5.3 3.07 1.4
Hill 41.1 19.9 7.2 5.02 0.1

Game 41: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 1.57 ERA) vs. LHP Rich Hill (3-3, 4.35 ERA)

Man alive, has the Eduardo experience been a fun one or what? The 30-year-old continues to shut down the opposition in his second season wearing the Ole English D — a performance that has most of the fanbase already forgetting about his strange odyssey last summer. His last time out against the Guardians was yet another gem, hurling seven innings of shutout ball on four hits and two walks while striking out eight. If you Porcello out his first two games — which were mediocre at best — the veteran Venezuelan has thrown 41 23 innings with a 0.43 ERA, 2.08 FIP, a .157 batting average against, and one home run allowed over that stretch while striking out 41.

Another veteran takes the mound on Wednesday in 43-year-old Rich Hill, who is now in his 19th major league season and first with the Pirates — his 12th MLB team. The former fourth-round pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 2002 draft continues to do what he has done best over his lengthy career, and that is to effectively eat innings for his franchise. The grizzled Methuselah has only had one bad outing in 2023 but otherwise has been the solid hurler fans have come to know and love. His seven-pitch arsenal is headlined by his curveball (71.2 mph, 39.3% per Baseball Savant), which has long been his signature pitch and is still a serviceable offering at the 63rd percentile in curve spin.

Series Outlook: A split will do the trick

Pittsburgh has been a tough team in the early going and presents a possibly tough matchup for the Tigers. The Pirates are currently in the middle of the pack in OPS (No. 15, .724) and are generally average in every offensive category, while of course, the Tigers remain at the bottom of the barrel — though they have shown some life on offense raising their OPS to .648, which is good enough for 24th in the majors. Additionally, Hill has historically been a tough pitcher for Detroit’s offense, but despite having E-Rod on the bump that afternoon, that one will likely be close.

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