Series Preview: Tigers head to Boston for 3-game set vs. Red Sox

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers are coming off a series win against the visiting Minnesota Twins — the top team in the American League Central — taking the last three of the four-game set to pull within seven games of the division leader.

However, the Motor City Kitties are still 11 games under the .500 mark, which in any other division would have them all but mathematically eliminated with a little over a month and a half remaining in the regular season. Nonetheless, AJ Hinch’s team can still play spoilers even if they remain out of reach of the division title.

Next up is the Boston Red Sox, who host the Tigers for a three-game series this weekend starting on Friday night. Playing in the toughest division in the majors, the Beantowners are 11 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles while sitting five games over .500. Funny thing is, if they were in the Central, they would have a one-game lead over the Twins.

Take a look below at the pitching matchups for this weekend’s tangle at Fenway Park. Note Sunday’s early start plus the fact that the game will be broadcast on Peacock (ew).

Detroit Tigers (52-63) at Boston Red Sox (60-55)

Times (EDT): Friday: 7:10 p.m.; Saturday: 4:10 p.m.; Sunday: 12:05 p.m.
Place: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
SB Nation Site: Over the Monster
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network, Peacock

Game 116 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 27.0 31.1 3.8 1.37 1.3
Sale 59.0 28.5 6.0 3.69 1.2

Game 116: LHP Tarik Skubal (2-1, 3.67 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (5-2, 4.58 ERA)

Skubal has been lights out in four of his six starts this season after his return from flexor tendon surgery. Both his traditional and peripheral numbers look fantastic, and besides those two hiccups, the only really limiting issue right now is that he has not made it past 5 13 innings pitched. That season-high came last time out when he shut down the Tampa Bay Rays allowing one unearned run on six hits and a walk while striking out six.

Sale is just a shadow of the pitcher he once was as he plays through the twilight years of his 13-year career. Friday’s game represents his first since going on the 60-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, last throwing in an MLB game on June 1. The 34-year-old made two rehab starts with Triple-A Worcester, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless last Sunday. For his career, the left-hander is 11-8 with a 3.03 ERA in 34 career appearances (24 starts) against the Tigers.

Game 117 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Manning 53.1 17.3 6.2 5.31 0.1
Bello 108.2 19.9 6.6 4.35 1.2

Game 117: RHP Matt Manning (3-4, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Brayan Bello (8-6, 3.64 ERA)

Manning, now six games separated from his tandem no-hitter, has struggled significantly in his last three starts in an unexpected downturn for the 25-year-old hurler. In the right-hander’s most recent trio of outings, he put up a 9.18 ERA and 6.80 FIP over 16 23 innings while allowing six home runs over that stretch — all resulting in losses. Perhaps the third-year starter’s poor peripherals are finally coming back to haunt him but he is certainly due for a bounce-back effort.

Bello, who is currently in his sophomore season of big-league action, has put together a perfectly cromulent body of work this summer for the BoSox. The 24-year-old has been consistently solid, with just a couple of ugly games among his 19 starts. The right-hander features a five-pitch arsenal headlined by a sinker (95.0 mph, 36.1%), followed by a changeup (86.4 mph, 24.0%), four-seam fastball (95.6 mph, 21.4%), slider (85.0 mph, 16.7%) and cutter (89.2 mph, 1.7%), per Baseball Savant.

Game 118 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 101.1 25.0 6.2 3.09 2.6
Crawford 85.1 24.9 6.0 4.05 1.2

Game 118: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (8-5, 2.75 ERA) vs. RHP Kutter Crawford (5-6, 3.80 ERA)

Rodriguez faces his old team for the first time this season on Sunday as he continues his stellar campaign for the Tigers. Since the trade deadline — which almost saw the superlative hurler leave Detroit — it has been business as usual for the 30-year-old veteran, notching a pair of quality starts while throwing a combined 13 innings, allowing two runs on 11 hits and four walks, striking out 10 and keeping the ball in the park with no dingers allowed. With Michael Lorenzen’s departure, the rotation feels so much more secure with the left-hander headlining the staff.

Crawford appears to finally be rounding into form during his third year in the majors, working a flex role between the starting rotation (14 starts) and the bullpen (eight relief appearances). Interestingly, the 27-year-old’s longest outing this season was in relief at 6 13 innings, but otherwise, he made it to the six-inning mark twice. The right-hander gets by on a six-pitch arsenal starting with a four-seam fastball (94.0 mph, 38.8%), followed by a cutter (88.6 mph, 30.1%), curveball (80.0 mph, 11.3%), splitter (82.5 mph, 8.9%), sweeper (82.5 mph, 6.4%) and slider (83.6 mph, 6.5%), per Baseball Savant.

Series Outlook: Beat the Beantowners

I do not know about you all, but I am still very salty over the ALCS loss a decade ago that seemingly slammed the Tigers’ championship window shut. While a series win will not move the needle too much for Detroit, the emotional satisfaction of enacting revenge — even if it is 10 years later — is alone well worth it. And frankly, this is a series the Olde English D can claim with a decent amount of effort especially given how the pitching matchups favor the good guys.

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