Series Preview: Detroit Tigers host Washington Nationals for 3-game weekday set

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers came away with just one win in two tries upon their return to Comerica Park last weekend, dropping two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers in a series that saw some offensive outbursts from both teams. The Motor City Kitties now turn their attention to the second half of their current homestand in which they host the Washington Nationals for a three-game midweek series.

The Nats are currently third in the National League East division, sitting a whopping 15 games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies. They have been fairly decent on the road — in fact, better than at home — putting together a 17-18 mark away from the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.

The Tigers are in fourth place in the American League Central, and despite being just a game under .500, are 10.5 games behind the Cleveland Guardians in what has become a surprisingly competitive division. Detroit has been a disappointing 15-17 at home while putting together a winning record on the road, 17-16.

Take a look below at the pitching matchups for the upcoming weekday series between Detroit and Philadelphia.

Detroit Tigers (32-33) at Washington Nationals (30-35)

Times (ET): Tuesday: 6:40 p.m.; Wednesday: 6:40 p.m.; Thursday: 1:10 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Federal Baseball
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 66 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Maeda 40.1 17.1 6.9 5.85 -0.2
Parker 57.0 19.8 5.3 3.62 1.0

Game 66: RHP Kenta Maeda (2-2, 6.25 ERA) vs. LHP Mitchell Parker (4-3, 3.47 ERA)

Maeda threw just a pair of pitches against the Texas Rangers last time out before getting pulled with right abdominal discomfort. However, all indications are that he is good to go for Tuesday’s game but that comes as little comfort to Tigers fans. Nonetheless, the 36-year-old alternated good and bad starts in May, earning a pair of wins while allowing just one run in the 11 innings between the two, but also getting bombed hard in the others.

Parker is in the midst of a fine rookie campaign so far in 2024, putting up solid traditional numbers including a 1.05 WHIP. The 24-year-old, who was a fifth-round selection in 2020 by the Nats, has thrown four quality starts in his 10 total outings but has had a habit of allowing at least two runs per game since the start of May. The southpaw ranks in the 86th percentile in extension (6.9), 84th in walk percentage (5.3) and 80th in chase percentage (31.8), per Baseball Savant.

Game 67 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 65.2 21.0 7.6 3.90 1.5
Irvin 75.0 21.4 4.7 3.16 1.8

Game 67: RHP Reese Olson (1-7, 3.43 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Irvin (4-5, 3.12 ERA)

Olson has struggled of late after getting off to a torrid start to the season before hitting an early June swoon. Since the start of the month, the 24-year-old has put up a 12.54 ERA but a more respectable 4.22 FIP over two games lasting just 9 13 innings, allowing 13 hits (two home runs) while walking two and striking out 11. It does not help that he ranks in the eighth percentile in hard-hit percentage and ninth in both average exit velocity and extension.

Irvin is another MLB sophomore who will toe the rubber on Wednesday, coming in with improved stats over his solid rookie campaign. The 27-year-old has thrown four straight quality starts, posting a 1.48 ERA and 2.82 FIP stretching over 24 13 innings allowing 16 hits (two home runs) and five walks while striking out 26. The right-hander excels among his peers in extension (89th percentile), walk percentage (88th) and breaking ball run value (84th).

Game 68 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 59.0 14.8 6.8 4.11 0.6
Gore 68.0 27.6 7.5 3.75 1.5

Game 68: RHP Casey Mize (1-4, 4.73 ERA) vs. RHP MacKenzie Gore (5-5, 3.57 ERA)

Mize’s struggles continued last game as the former top draft pick simply cannot miss bats with any of his pitches; however, the unearned runs allowed in the last two also suggest some bad luck involved with his results. Still, the 27-year-old is only two-plus months into his return from a long-term injury layoff so it is way too soon to give up on his now. That said, his MLB percentile rankings are swathed in blue, with the major outlier being his elite extension (94th).

Gore is now in his third year of MLB service and has seemingly taken a step forward from his previous two seasons. The 25-year-old had been cruising along until June arrived, surrendering no more than three runs an outing until the New York Mets battered him for his worst outing of the season two games ago. A major reason for his improvement is his reduction of hard-hit balls, posting a 0.8 HR/9 so far while showing significant improvements in the peripheral metrics, according to Baseball Savant.

Series Outlook: A ‘should-win’ series… but is it?

The Tigers send out the back of their rotation to face the Nationals this week but the good news is that Washington is slightly worse on offense than the Tigers are. The visitors come in ranked 27th in OPS (.659), breaking down into a team .232 batting average (22nd), .304 on-base percentage (22nd) and .355 slugging (27th), while the home team’s respective .671 OPS (23rd), .230 BA (25th), .297 OBP (27th) and .374 SLG (19th) shows that Detroit has the edge in the power department. The question is, will the bats show up and help out the struggling pitching staff or we see some lopsided affairs? Stay tuned this week.

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