Game Preview: Detroit Tigers at Atlanta Braves for 3-game weekday set

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers dropped its three-game road set with the Houston Astros last weekend to make it four-straight series losses for the Motor City Kitties. The stretch has the team sinking in the American League Central, where they now sit three games under the .500 mark.

Next up for AJ Hinch’s squad are the Atlanta Braves, who await them at Truist Field to kick off a three-gamer starting Monday night. They are currently second in the National League East but are a whopping eight games behind the leading Philadelphia Phillies.

Below is a look at the pitching matchups expected for the next three days, featuring a few top arms in the majors. It looks to be a tough week for the Olde English D in Hotlanta.

Detroit Tigers (34-37) at Atlanta Braves (38-31)

Times (ET): Monday: 7:20 p.m.; Tuesday: 7:20 p.m.; Wednesday: 12:20 p.m.
Place: Truist Park, Atlanta, Texas
SB Nation Site: Battery Power
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 72 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 71.0 20.1 7.6 3.26 1.5
Fried 78.2 22.4 7.7 3.39 1.4

Game 72: RHP Reese Olson (1-8, 3.68 ERA) vs. LHP Max Fried (6-3, 3.20 ERA)

Olson’s struggles continued his last time out, surrendering five runs (four earned ) on 10 hits (one home run) and two walks while striking out three Nats batters over 5 13 frames. The 24-year-old has put up a 10.43 ERA and 4.72 FIP over his last three games, stretching over 14 23 innings.

Fried is having a bit of an off-year — by his standards, anyway — but has already logged a pair of complete games including a shutout in 13 starts. The 30-year-old put up a 4.50 ERA and a 3.65 FIP in a pair of June outings so far, allowing 10 hits and three walks while striking out a whopping 16 batters over 12 frames.

Game 73 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 65.0 15.0 6.6 4.43 0.9
Schwellenbach 15.2 17.6 7.4 4.43 0.1

Game 73: RHP Casey Mize (1-4, 4.43 ERA) vs. RHP Spencer Schwellenbach (0-2, 6.32 ERA)

Mize showed some promise in his last outing against Washington, spinning six innings of one-run ball on four hits and a walk while striking out four for his first quality start since mid-May. The 27-year-old is still struggling with his strikeout percentage, expected batting average and whiff percentage, for which he ranks in the seventh, eighth and 10th percentile among MLB players, respectively.

Schwellenbach toes the rubber for the fourth time on Wednesday afternoon in his major league baseball rookie campaign. While the team has lost all three of the 24-year-old’s starts so far, he managed to put up a quality start against the Baltimore Orioles last time, going six innings and allowing two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three in the no-decision.

Game 74 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 86.0 29.2 4.8 2.44 2.7
Lòpez 69.1 25.8 8.1 2.83 1.9

Game 74: LHP Tarik Skubal (8-2, 2.20 ERA) vs. RHP Reynaldo López (4-2, 1.69 ERA)

Skubal hit a speed bump the last time out against the Astros, allowing four runs on six hits (one home run) and a walk while striking out only two in 6 13 innings of work to take his second loss of 2024. However, there is little reason to be concerned about the 27-year-old heading into the dog days of summer as he is still second in the majors when it comes to fWAR.

Now in his ninth season, Lòpez is also one of the better pitchers in the league thanks to some sparkling traditional stats such as his 1.04 WHIP. The 30-year-old has not been a full-time starter since his 2020 campaign with the Chicago White Sox but he has eased back into the roll with little issue, thanks in large part to ranking in the 98th percentile in overall pitching run value which is buoyed by his fastball (95th) and breaking ball (99th) run values.

Series Outlook: Anything is possible

While Atlanta is not a juggernaut on offense, ranking 13th in OPS (.716), its pitching ranks in the top 10 in ERA (3.72) coming in ninth. Compare that to Detroit’s ranking of 19th in OPS (.676) and 13th in ERA (3.86), and on paper, one would think this series is closer than it seems based on team win-loss records.

In fact, the Braves are also ranked 15th in runs scored (309) while the Tigers are 17th (304). Sure, good guys seem to score runs in packs rather than distributing them more evenly across games, but if the pitching matchups hold — especially if Olson can get back on track — this is a winnable series. The boys in blue come into the week with an even 18-18 mark away from Comerica Park.

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