Series Preview: Detroit Tigers return home to host Kansas City Royals this weekend

Bless You Boys

Things are going pretty well for the Detroit Tigers as they come off a six-game road trip with four victories and a pair of series wins over the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively. Now they head back to the comfortable confines of Comerica Park to lock horns with another fellow American League Central

The Kansas City Royals roll into town on Friday for a three-game set in the D alongside the NFL draft, which kicked off on Thursday night. The blue boys are second in the division, sitting 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Tigers. Surprisingly, three of the five ALC teams are currently above the .500 mark.

The pitching matchups for this weekend are all tightly contested, so it should be quite a battle over the next three games. Take a look below at what is in store.

Detroit Tigers (14-11) vs. Kansas City Royals (16-10)

Times (ET): Friday: 1:10 p.m.; Saturday: 6:10 p.m.; Sunday: 1:10 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 26 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 21.1 18.8 8.3 3.00 0.5
Lugo 31.0 11.1 5.6 3.85 0.4

Game 26: RHP Reese Olson (0-3, 3.80 ERA) vs. RHP Seth Lugo (3-1, 2.03 ERA)

Olson has been oscillating between good and bad starts in his four outings so far, with his most recent effort representing the trough of the sine wave. The 24-year-old was not terrible against the Twins, but he surrendered four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five frames to earn his third loss of the season. The good news is that the trend suggests he will have a good outing on Friday.

Lugo has looked very good in his opening act with his new team this spring, stringing up four straight quality starts stretching across 25.2 innings in which he put up a 1.05 ERA and 2.95 FIP. However, the 34-year-old last appearance saw him regress, lasting just 5 13 frames while allowing four runs on nine hits (two home runs) and a walk while striking out one against the Baltimore Orioles. That regression could continue this weekend.

Game 27 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 21.1 17.8 6.7 3.23 0.4
Singer 29.1 24.1 8.6 4.23 0.4

Game 27: RHP Casey Mize (1-0, 2.95 ERA) vs. RHP Brady Singer (2-1, 2.76 ERA)

Mize has been a pleasant surprise in his return from major surgery to the big leagues as he continues to rebuild his strength. The 26-year-old’s season debut left something to be desired but he has improved in each game since, throwing quality starts in his last two appearances. Against the Twinkies last time out, he held them scoreless over six innings allowing five hits and three walks while striking out four for his first win in 2024.

Singer, now in his fifth big league campaign, has struggled to reach the potential many saw in him when he was selected in the 1st round at No. 18th of the 2018 MLB draft but has started strong this season. While small sample size caveats apply, his 0.96 WHIP is a significant improvement over his 1.45 mark in 2023 — which truly is the biggest difference in his numbers. However, his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays marred his stats a bit so he could be regressing.

Game 28 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 29.2 31.3 4.5 2.26 1.0
Wacha 28.1 21.4 7.7 3.81 0.6

Game 28: LHP Tarik Skubal (3-0, 1.82 ER) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (1-2, 3.81 ERA)

Skubal continues to dominate major league hitters with three of his five outings so far resulting in quality starts. However, somewhat similar to Olson, there is a bit of an ebb and flow to the 27-year-old’s success as he alternates between gems and above-average outings. Unlike Olson, though, the trend suggests a downswing from the Tigers ace on Sunday.

Wacha is now in his 12th MLB campaign and first with the Royals after bouncing around the league for a few years. Still only 32 years old, the veteran hurler has not been spectacular but has done a fine job eating quality innings. The one black eye he has on his 2024 record came against the New York Mets when he surrendered five runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out four over six frames; otherwise, he has been solid.

Series Outlook: Let’s keep this thing rolling

The Tigers have been finding ways to win thanks to some fantastic pitching, but also the resurrection of Javier Baez. Since the final game of the Texas Rangers series, the 31-year-old is batting .300 with .333 OBP and .450 SLG — good for a .783 OPS — but it is worth noting he has benefitted from a .429 BABIP; also included are three doubles, a walk and three stolen bases. Then as far as pitching is concerned, Detroit comes into the series third in team ERA (3.00), which lags behind only the Boston Red Sox (2.60) and New York Yankees (2.95), respectively. This is yet another winnable series for the Olde English D.

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