With Greene out, Tigers need left-handed hitting Nick Maton to pick up some of the slack

Detroit News

Chicago — Nick Maton could certainly use a little emotional rescue about now and maybe going back to Philadelphia this week and reliving his World Series run with the Phillies last season will provide it.

“It’s going to be sick,” said Maton, who along with Matt Vierling will be presented with their National League championship rings in a pre-game ceremony Monday night. “It was a crazy run we had and it’ll be cool to get a ring for it. It’ll be nice to see all those guys again and hopefully beat them a little bit (smiles).”

Tigers’ manager AJ Hinch is certainly hoping a trip back to Citizens Bank Park will help restore some of the good offensive vibes Maton brought with him to spring training after the he and Vierling were acquired in a trade for reliver Gregory Soto.

Because Maton’s struggle is real. He’s hitting .162 on the season, .150 since the start of May with 20 strikeouts.

Hinch was asked before the game Saturday if he contemplated giving Maton multiple days off to reset mentally and physically, as he has done effectively with scuffling players in the past.

“I don’t feel good about it,” he said. “I don’t feel like he’s defeated. I don’t feel like he’s mentally drained. I don’t feel like he’s backing off. It’s just, fundamentally, he’s in a tough spot. Right now I’m not considering that.

“If I did that in Philly, he would walk into my office and throw my desk. That’s not the series to do it. If anything, maybe that will lock him in.”

The reality is, especially now with Riley Greene on the injured list, the Tigers need someone to step up and produce from the left side of the batter’s box.

“Without Greene, without Austin Meadows, without Kerry Carpenter (all left-handed hitters, all on the injured list), the left-handed presence in our lineup is being challenged,” Hinch said. “That’s where you want Nick to get going. Akil (Baddoo) is having a great stretch. Zack McKinstry has been incredible.

“But to truly have balance in your lineup and have the ability to maneuver in and around different matchups, balance is key as well as production.”

Maton’s difficulties with secondary pitches, namely anything other than fastballs, has been well-documented. He’s a combined 7 for 69 (.101) with 32 strikeouts against breaking balls and off-speed pitches.

Friday night, though, he was beaten by fastballs. In his first at-bat, White Sox starter Mike Clevinger froze him with a 3-2 fastball over the heart of the plate. Next time up, Clevinger struck him out swinging through a 94-mph heater.

“They threw a lot more fastballs to him last night than he’s seen in the last three or four weeks,” Hinch said. “And that seemed to surprise him.”

Reliever Joe Kelly punched him out with a pair of 99-mph sinkers.

“He’s trying to cover a lot,” Hinch said. “I’m not sure I see a fully committee plan. I see him not quite wanting to give up on the fastball and I see him not quite really committed to sitting soft. When pitchers gets you going back and forth like that, kind of teeter-tottering, it’s dangerous.

“You can’t cover either when you are trying to cover it all.”

Maton was the designated hitter Saturday, hitting sixth against White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease. There’s no soft landings at this level.

“He’s had a tough go of it,” Hinch said. “You see him take one step forward and one step back and he ends up in the same place…The scoreboard is not kind to him right now. The numbers are piling up on him. We’ve got to keep encouraging him that the quality of at-bat is super important as he tries to dig himself out of this hole.”

Around the horn

…The Tigers were hoping starting pitcher Alex Faedo could make his next start if they pushed him back a couple of days. That’s not going to happen. The club put him on the 15-day injured list before the game Saturday. He’s dealing with discomfort in the middle finger of his pitching hand. Faedo was scheduled to start Tuesday in Philadelphia. The Tigers didn’t immediately announce any other roster move.

Tigers at White Sox, Guaranteed Rate Field

2:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: Bally Sports Detroit, 97.1.

Scouting report

LHP Matthew Boyd (3-4, 5.96), Tigers: His starts are following a repetitive script. Strong, almost unhittable early and then a crooked number. Against Texas last week he put up zeros for four innings, then in the fifth, two walks and a three-run homer ruined his day. His stuff is there. Next hurdle is sustaining it deeper into games.

RHP Michael Kopech (3-5, 4.52), White Sox: Over his last three starts covering 19.1 innings, he’s struck out 29 with three walks. Opponents are hitting .123 with a .186 on-base percentage against him in those starts. His four-seam fastball, 95.6 mph with elite spin (2,526 rpm) is checking hitters at .226 with a 30.6% whiff rate.

–Chris McCosky


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