Series Preview: Detroit Tigers hit the road to face Minnesota Twins this weekend

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers return to the road this weekend to face a familiar foe in the Minnesota Twins for a three-game series at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The good guys were not as successful defending their home turf against the reigning World Series champions, the Texas Rangers, as they would have liked to have been, dropping three out of four games during the week. However, all four games were decided by margins of two runs or less, so at least AJ Hinch’s squad has been putting up a good fight.

The Tigers and Twins just saw each other last weekend in Comerica Park, where Detroit won the bookends of the four-game series to split with their American League Central Division rivals. Since then, the Twinkies were swept by the Baltimore Orioles on the road in three games, leading up to Friday night’s matchup.

Detroit Tigers (10-9) vs. Minnesota Twins (6-11)

Times (ET): Friday: 8:10 p.m.; Saturday: 2:10 p.m.; Sunday: 2:10 p.m.
Place: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 20 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Flaherty 18.1 25.3 3.8 4.13 0.2
Ryan 17.1 34.3 2.9 2.45 0.6

Game 20: RHP Jack Flaherty (0-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Ryan (0-1, 2.60 ERA)

Flaherty’s last outing against the Twins was a solid one, earning a quality start thanks to 6 13 innings of three-run ball on six hits (plus a home run) and two walks while striking out eight for the team win. The 28-year-old has mostly been a three-pitch hurler, offering a four-seam fastball (93.7 mph), slider (85.3 mph) and knuckle curve (77.5 mph), respectively, while occasionally tossing a changeup (84.2 mph) and a sinker (90.2 mph).

Ryan’s last appearance had someone similar numbers to his Friday night opponent, but indeed a little bit more impressive. The 27-year-old tossed six frames of three-run ball (one earned) on six hits (plus a home run) and a walk while striking out a whopping 12 Tigers batters en route to a team win for Minnesota.

Game 21 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 16.1 19.2 8.2 2.96 0.4
Ober 12.1 20.4 5.6 5.31 0.1

Game 21: RHP Reese Olson (0-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHP Bailey Ober (0-1, 6.57 ERA)

Olson had an impressive outing against the Twins last week but ended up getting saddled with the loss despite his efforts. The 24-year-old earned a quality start thanks to 6 13 innings of one-run ball on six hits and a walk while striking out eight. The second-year pitcher has yet to surrender a dinger so far this year.

Ober was sparkling in his previous start against the Tigers, with another quality start notched by the two teams thanks to six frames of scoreless and walkless ball, surrendering three hits while striking out three… but in a team loss. The 28-year-old has come a long way from his disastrous season debut that left him with a 54.00 to start things off.

Game 22 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 15.1 18.5 4.6 3.27 0.3
Varland 14.0 22.2 6.9 6.84 -0.3

Game 22: RHP Casey Mize (0-0, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Louie Varland (0-3, 8.36 ERA)

Mize’s last start came against the Texas Rangers in Detroit, where he continued to shake off his rust with a six-inning effort that saw him cough up two runs on five hits — but no walks — while striking out six. The 26-year-old is still, unfortunately, dealing with some issues with hard-hit balls ranking in the bottom 3% in average exit velocity and bottom 5% in maximum exit velocity, but he is trending back in the right direction.

The last time Varland saw the Tigers was June 18 when Detroit tagged him for six runs on nine hits (two home runs) and two walks while striking out four in 4 13 to take the loss. The 26-year-old’s last outing against the O’s was a bit of the same, coughing up six runs on 11 hits (two dingers) but no walks while striking out six for his third defeat of the season.

Series Outlook: I’m once again asking to beat the Twins

Minnesota is struggling right now while Detroit is keeping its head afloat just above the .500 mark. It cannot be overstressed how important it is to beat your division rivals whether they are hot or not, and while this one will be on the road, the Tigers are 6-2 so far this season away from Comerica Park. No excuses this weekend: Minneapolis delenda est.

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