Series Preview: Tigers open up 2024 MLB season on road at Chicago White Sox

Bless You Boys

The big day is finally here as Major League Baseball officially opens up its 2024 schedule with a lengthy list of games — including the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox, who face off in the Windy City on Thursday afternoon.

The Motor City Kitties come into the season following up on a 78-84 effort last summer that landed them in second place among their American League Central peers. Of course, the Tigers finished nine games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins, but there was finally a glimpse of progress in Detroit.

The ChiSox, on the other hand, struggled mightily with a 61-101 final tally which landed them fourth in the division 26 games behind Minnesota. Things do not bode well for this upcoming campaign either, so it could be a long summer for the Chicago boys.

Detroit Tigers (0-0) at Chicago White Sox (0-0)

Times (ET): Thursday: 4:10 p.m.; Saturday: 2:10 p.m.; Sunday: 2:10 p.m.

Place: Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, Illinois

SB Nation Site: South Side Sox

Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 1 Pitching Matchup (2023)

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 80.1 32.9 4.5 2.00 3.3
Crochet 12.2 18.8 20.3 5.70 -0.1

Game 1: LHP Tarik Skubal (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Garrett Crochet (0-0, 0.00)

Skubal embarks upon a 2024 campaign that carries high expectations for the highly-heralded southpaw. The 27-year-old hurler led all major league pitchers in fWAR during the second half of last season, collecting 2.9 fWAR over 72 1/3 innings pitched. Among pitchers who threw at least 80 innings, he ranked fifth in ERA, first in FIP, third in strikeout rate, first in WHIP, sixth in swinging-strike rate and fourth in CSW rate.

Crochet enters his fourth big league season still wet behind the ears at 24 years old and with just 73 total MLB innings pitched — all in relief — since 2020. The lefty earned the opening-day starter out of spring camp after a very strong spring training showing. He threw 12 2/3 innings during the preseason, in which he recorded 14 strikeouts and one walk while flashing a 100 mph fastball along with a newly-added cutter and a biting slider.

Game 2 Pitching Matchup (2023)

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Maeda 104.1 27.3 6.5 4.02 1.5
Soroka 32.1 20.0 8.3 6.56 -0.4

Game 2: RHP Kenta Maeda (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Michael Soroka (0-0, 0.00)

Maeda comes to the Tigers after spending a couple of seasons with the Minnesota Twins; prior to that, the right-hander had spent four years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now a member of the Motor City Kitties, it is hoped that he will bring stability to a rotation that features both new and young faces, and his career numbers suggest that he will. In his pair of campaigns in the American League, he threw 173.0 innings for a 3.90 ERA, 3.68 FIP and 1.09 WHIP — which includes his league-best 0.75 WHIP in 2022.

Soroka is also a newcomer to his 2024 team by way of the Atlanta Braves, where he had spent his entire MLB career prior. After showing a lot of promise in his first two-plus seasons in the big leagues, an Achilles injury derailed his ascent, followed by a forearm injury that in total kept him off the field for two years. He struggled last season in Atlanta, throwing 32.1 innings with a 6.40 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 6.56 FIP, but he comes into this summer with a clean slate.

Game 3 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Flaherty 144.1 22.8 10.2 4.36 1.8
Fedde (KBO) 180.1 29.5 4.9 2.38 NA

Game 3: RHP Jack Flaherty (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Erick Fedde (0-0, 0.00)

Flaherty comes to Detroit also looking to recapture the magic he brought into the league when he finished fifth on the Rookie of the Year ballot in 2018 while earning Cy Young and MVP votes in 2019. After six-plus years with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Baltimore Orioles acquired him via trade in 2023 but were ostensibly disappointed with his performance. The Tigers hope the 28-year-old can find enough mojo to keep the starting rotation afloat in 2024.

Fedde returns Stateside after spending a year with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, where he excelled as a starter. The 31-year-old’s numbers overseas were a stark contrast to what he put up against American competition, against whom the right-hander recorded a 5.41 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 5.17 FIP over 454.1 innings that stretched across six seasons — all with the Washington Nationals. The Sox are hoping that he found something extra while he was in Korea.

Series Outlook: Tigers should get off to a good start

The pitching matchups appear to favor the Tigers but playing on the road against a division rival is always a tough deal. Still, there is a lot of optimism going into the season and a series win (or dare I say, a sweep) by the Olde English D would really get the fanbase going early. And who knows, maybe a strong start will be the key to competing for the AL Central crown.

Welcome back, baseball.

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