Series Preview: Detroit Tigers return home to host Toronto Blue Jays for 4-game set

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers started off well on their recent road trip, taking two of three from the Arizona Diamondbacks but things took a wrong turn against the Kansas City Royals, who swept them in three games this week. So much for the team playing better on the road, amirite?

The Motor City Kitties now return home for another six-game homestand, starting with four against the Toronto Blue Jays starting on Thursday night. Having now lost four straight, AJ Hinch’s team needs to correct the course and hopefully, Comerica Park is where they will do it.

Below is a look at the pitching matchups for the Memorial Day weekend series, save for two of Detroit’s starters. Note that Sunday’s game starts stupidly early and will be broadcast on Roku.

Detroit Tigers (23-26) vs Toronto Blue Jays (22-26)

Times (ET): Thursday: 6:40 p.m.; Friday: 6:40 p.m.; Saturday: 1:10 p.m.; Sunday: 11:35 a.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Bluebird Banter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network, Roku

Game 50 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Flaherty 54.2 33.0 3.7 2.77 1.4
Gausman 42.1 22.6 5.8 3.49 0.7

Game 50: RHP Jack Flaherty (1-3, 3.79 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (2-3, 4.89 ERA)

Thursday night’s start will be Flaherty’s first against the Jays in a Tigers uniform. The 28-year-old has turned in four straight quality starts, recording a 2.49 ERA and 1.79 FIP over 25 13 innings allowing 20 hits (two home runs) and four walks while striking out 36. He continues to be an important asset in the starting rotation with his major league-leading 11.9 strikeouts per inning.

Gausman’s 12th big league season has not been his best, with several rough outings sprinkled with a few gems. The 33-year-old’s WHIP has ballooned from 1.18 to 1.51 since last year and his hits per nine is an abysmal 11.3; however, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is still pretty tidy. Last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays, he allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out six over six frames in the no-decision loss.

Game 51 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Manning 27.2 18.7 9.8 4.18 0.2
Manoah 18.0 25.3 8.0 4.69 0.1

Game 51: RHP Matt Manning (0-1, 4.88 ERA) vs. RHP Alek Manoah (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Manning has performed rather modestly since taking over the rotation spot once held by Kenta Maeda in something of a 3.6 roentgen kind of way: not great, not terrible. Over his last two starts, the 26-year-old has posted a 5.91 ERA but a much better 3.13 FIP over 10 23 innings, allowing 19 hits and four walks while striking out six — but no home runs allowed. The one feather in his cap among his peripheral stats is his extension, which ranks in the 83rd percentile.

Manoah has looked pretty good so far in his fourth MLB season after getting a late start due to right shoulder inflammation. The 26-year-old has put up the best WHIP (0.94) of his career but has struggled a bit with his home run rate (1.5 per nine) thus far, the latter of which matches his number from last year, but his sample size is still small. If you Porcello out his season debut, the righty has a perfect 0.00 ERA and a 3.06 FIP, allowing five hits (one home run) and two walks while striking out 13 over 14 frames.

Game 53 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
TBD
Berríos 60.1 20.0 7.5 4.62 0.3

Game 52: TBD vs. RHP José Berríos (5-3, 2.98 ERA)

Berríos was off to a good start to his ninth MLB campaign, recording his career-best ERA so far while already throwing his first complete game since 2021. The 29-year-old has struggled of late, however, putting up a 7.02 ERA and 6.25 FIP over three games in May on 18 hits (five home runs) and five walks against 17 strikeouts over 16 23 innings. There was a seven-inning quality start sandwiched in that stretch but it has not looked great for the veteran righty.

Game 53 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
TBD
Kikuchi 58.0 25.8 5.5 2.60 1.8

Game 53: TBD vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (2-4, 2.64 ERA)

Kikuchi is off to a tremendous start to his 2024 season — his sixth in the bigs — with career-best numbers in ERA, FIP and WHIP, along with a few other stats. The 32-year-old has allowed more than two earned runs just twice in 10 appearances and has recorded six quality starts. The former NPB standout is ninth in the majors in fWAR and is in the top 10 percentile in pitching run value (93rd), breaking ball run value (95th), xERA (91st) and extension (91st).

Series Outlook: Is a split too much to ask for?

These two teams are fairly evenly matched on offense, with Toronto ranking 22nd in team OPS (.671) and Detroit right behind them at 23rd (.670), while also ranking near the bottom in home runs at 27th (40) and 29th (39), respectively. On the pitching side, however, the Tigers hold the upper hand ranking 10th in ERA (3.63) while the Jays are 21st (4.29); the former’s WHIP (1.17) ranks seventh while the latter’s is 22nd (1.33). However, with two TBDs lined up in the home team’s pitching forecast, there is still a great deal of uncertainty.

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