Series Preview: Detroit Tigers move on to second leg of road trip at Kansas City Royals

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers rash of series losses finally came to an end last weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who dropped two of three to the visitors. The Motor City Kitties now move on to the second leg of their six-game road trip to face the Kansas City Royals for a midweek set.

The Royals are currently in a battle for first place in the American League Central, sitting just 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Guardians; the Tigers are fourth in the division 6.5 games back and dead even at the .500 mark entering the series. Coming off a home sweep of the Oakland Athletics, KC has plenty of momentum heading into this clash of two division rivals.

Below is a look at the pitching matchups set for the next three days — all of which look to be pitcher’s duels on paper.

Detroit Tigers (23-23) at Kansas City Royals (29-19)

Times (ET): Monday: 7:40 p.m.; Tuesday: 7:40 p.m.; Wednesday: 2:10 p.m.
Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 47 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 47.1 21.7 7.9 2.56 1.3
Wacha 49.2 20.6 7.9 3.84 0.8

Game 47: RHP Reese Olson (0-4, 2.09 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (3-4, 4.71 ERA)

Olson’s start earlier this season against KC in Detroit on April 26, he threw a gem that his team failed to capitalize on. The 24-year-old tossed seven innings of one-run ball on three hits and three walks while striking out eight to take the loss. That was the righty’s second-best performance so far after his eight innings of shutout ball the last time he was on the mound against the Miami Marlins… which Detroit also lost.

Wacha also appeared in the earlier series the day before, taking a loss after coughing up four runs on nine hits (two home runs) but no walks while striking out three over 5 23 frames. The 32-year-old followed that up with his worst start of the season before logging a pair of quality starts in his last two outings. The righty posted a 2.25 ERA and 3.85 FIP over that stretch of 12 innings, striking out 13 while allowing a dinger.

Game 48 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 43.2 17.5 5.5 3.63 0.6
Marsh 37.0 20.7 6.7 3.42 0.7

Game 48: RHP Casey Mize (1-2, 3.50 ERA) vs. RHP Alec Marsh (3-1, 2.43 ERA)

Mize also faced the Royals at the end of April in Detroit, representing the last team win with him on the mound. The 27-year-old lasted five innings in that one, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits but no walks and three strikeouts. Since then, the fourth-year hurler earned a loss in two of the three games pitched, accounting for a 4.15 ERA and 4.48 WHIP over 17 13 innings, walking four and striking out 14 while surrendering a trio of home runs over that stretch.

Marsh gets his first-ever start against the Tigers on Tuesday as the second-year hurler continues his superb sophomore campaign. The 26-year-old has shown significant improvements over his 2023 stats, which included a 5.69 ERA and 5.70 FIP, while his WHIP went from bloated (1.56) to sparkling (1.05) and his home runs per nine innings dropped from 1.9 to 0.7. The righty has thrown more than 5 23 frames just once so expect some bullpen work on the day he throws.

Game 49 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 55.0 31.6 3.8 1.95 2.0
Ragans 56.0 27.6 7.8 2.58 1.6

Game 49: LHP Tarik Skubal (6-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. LHP Cole Ragans (3-3, 3.70 ERA)

Skubal’s start against Kansas City on April 28 was his longest outing of the 2024 campaign and one of six quality starts logged in nine appearances. The 27-year-old went seven innings in that one, allowing just a run on four hits and a walk while striking out six for the win. The southpaw comes into the series leading the majors in fWAR and FIP while ranked fifth in ERA and tied for second in WHIP (0.78).

Ragans missed the Tigers series back in April but has otherwise put together a strong campaign in his third big league season. The 26-year-old has a few duds scattered among his gems — the most recent one coming two starts ago against the Los Angeles Angels in which he surrendered seven runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out three over 6 13 innings. However, he bounced back against the A’s last time out, putting up his season-best seven innings of shutout ball, allowing a pair of hits and walks while striking out seven.

Series Outlook: Gotta beat those fellow ALC teams

I have said it before and I will say it again — if you want to win the division title, you have to beat the teams in your division. The Tigers actually won the last series in Detroit, two games to one, and not only have some positive momentum from the Diamondbacks series but also carry a 13-10 record on the road; the bad news is that KC also has momentum as well as an 18-8 mark at Kaufmann Stadium. Nonetheless, it should be an exciting series especially with the marquee matchup between Skubal and Ragans on Wednesday.

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