It might come to the surprise of many that the Detroit Tigers currently sit just one game under the .500 mark as well as a game behind the American League Central division-leading Minnesota Twins as the month of May draws to a close. Believe it or not, the Motor City Kitties’ record through 51 is their best since the 2015 campaign — which might not be the best year to emulate given that the franchise finished at the bottom of the division with a 74-87 final record.
It is safe to say, however, that this is a very different team eight years later, discarding the stars and scrubs model for a more of a LEGOS-style construction with a cast of role players who have found ways to succeed in the D. And as we reach the one-third mark of the season, it has been an entertaining squad to follow — to say the least.
Next up on the schedule are the Texas Rangers, who arrive in town on Monday for an early Memorial Day matchup inside Comerica Park. The team from Arlington is 14 games over .500 and currently sits in the top perch of the American League West division two games ahead of the Houston Astros. They have won seven of their last 10 and are looking for their fourth-straight series win, but the Tigers might have something to say about that.
Take a look below at the pitching matchups for this week’s three-game series between Detroit and Texas.
Detroit Tigers (25-26) vs. Texas Rangers (33-19)
Game 52 Pitching Matchup
Boyd continues to bounce back from his awful outing against the Seattle Mariners back on May 12, helping his team earn wins in his last two starts. The 32-year-old is still struggling with the third time through the order and is good for about four or five solid innings, but still requires a lot of assistance from the bullpen to bridge the early and late innings. His home runs per nine remain at a manageable 1.3 while maintaining a solid strikeout rate.
Eovaldi has found another gear during the 2023 campaign so far, putting up even tidier numbers than his 2021 season in which he earned an All-Star bid plus several Cy Young and MVP votes. The 33-year-old currently leads the majors with two complete games and one complete-game shutout thanks in large part to his microscopic 0.97 WHIP. The right-hander gets by on a five-pitch arsenal headlined by a four-seam fastball (95.8 mph, 36.5%), splitter (88.6 mph, 27.4%), cutter (91.3 mph, 19.5%), curveball (76.8 mph, 13.3%) and slider (84.7 mph, 3.4%), according to Baseball Savant.
Game 53 Pitching Matchup
Faedo’s last outing was among the best of his young career, earning a quality start thanks to six innings of two-run ball on three hits (one home run), no walks and 10 strikeouts to outduel the ChiSox’s Lucas Giolito for his first win of 2023. While his peripherals are nothing to write home about, the 27-year-old out of Florida has been finding his footing as gets more major league reps, culminating in that superlative appearance. If his trend continues its upward progress, the Tigers might have a very valuable hurler on their hands.
Pérez continues to be a workhorse for the Rangers, now in his 12th season in Arlington, racking up the innings while keeping a modest amount of runners from crossing plate while he is on the bump. However, the 32-year-old has regressed a bit since his All-Star appearance last season, with an ERA nearly a full run higher, an FIP nearly 1.3 greater and a WHIP that has ballooned to 1.47. The Tigers have a chance to feast on the grizzled veteran, but given that the native Venezuelan has thrown two straight quality starts, there will need to be a shift in trends.
Game 54 Pitching Matchup
Game 54: TBD vs. RHP Dane Dunning (4-0, 1.67 ERA)
Dunning, a collegiate teammate of Faedo, has taken a massive step forward this spring in his third year with the Rangers and fourth in the majors. The last two seasons saw his ERA hovering in the mid-fours but the 28-year-old has certainly turned the corner. The right-hander began the season coming out of the bullpen serving mostly as a middle reliever until the calendar flipped to May. This month, he has started four games in which he threw a cumulative 22 2⁄3 innings while allowing four runs on 20 hits and five walks while striking out 15; he allowed zero home runs and hit a batter.
Series Outlook: Tigers need to take at least one
This will be a tough series for the Tigers — probably the toughest this month, which is fitting given that these are the last three games of May. Monday’s matchup looks pretty brutal and we still do not know exactly what to expect on Wednesday from the Olde English D, but it is not out of the question that Detroit can take at least one of these games. Flipping the calendar to June just a pair of games under .500 is not too shabby for this squad.