Baseball

Series Preview: Tigers at White Sox – The Up And Uppercut

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Records: Tigers 7-16 / White Sox 12-9

First Pitch: 7:10 Tues-Thurs

TV/Radio: NBCSN and ESPN1000

TIGER UPPERCT! – Bless You Boys

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Jose Ureña (0-3 4.57 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (1-1 5.79 ERA)

Game 2: Casey Mize (1-2 5.23 ERA) vs. Carlos Rodon (3-0 0.47 ERA)

Game 3: Matthew Boyd (2-2 1.82 ERA) vs. Dylan “Sigh” Cease (0-0 4.15 ERA)

 

I don’t hate the Tigers anymore. I really used to, back in the early part of the 2010s. Much like my hatred for the Vancouver Canucks and Red Wings in hockey it’s just sort of fizzled out, leaving behind a feeling of indifference bordering on pity (probably how a lot of other teams felt about the Sox in the late 2010s and how everybody feels about the Hawks now).

A lot of this stems from how MLB teams run their franchises these days. The first time I ever went to Comerica Park in Detroit (beautiful field, BTW. If you can make it up there, you should), the Tigers were playing the Indians and both teams were hell bent on racing to 100 losses that season. The highlight of the game was my buddies and I setting the over/under for total number of errors in the game at 4, and them blowing by it with 9.

A few years later and both teams were in the postseason and the Tigers lost to the Giants in the World Series. Then everyone aged out for Detroit and it was back down the other side of the hill for them. They’re currently at the bottom right side of the dip in their bell curve, waiting to climb on up. There are a lot of solid pieces on this team that just need the major league experience to take that next step.

The biggest part of this for the Tigers is their pitching staff, which in the next few years could rival Cleveland for youth and skill. Tigers GM Al Avila (despite looking like a used car salesman who moonlights as a gameshow host) has done well for himself by compiling a trio of starters with massive upside in Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. All three of which have the potential to dominate AL Central hitting for the next decade.

The thing the Tigers are missing at this point is position players. After Spencer Torkelson (now THAT’S a baseball name) and Daz Cameron there isn’t much in the pipeline that will be up in the next year or so unless they make a huge leap from A ball. As for who’s currently on the roster now that could be a piece of that future, Jeimer Candelario and Victor Reyes seem like they could be + players. Candelario arrived from the Cubs in 2017 along with Isaac Paredes for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. He was essentially handed the starting job at 3rd base from then on, mostly because the Tigers didn’t have any other options. He made a breakthrough last season, slashing .297/.369/.872 and a 136 wRC+ rating. He’s decent enough in the field, and will most likely have to stick at 3B because while Torkelson plays there, long term he profiles (much like our own Andrew Vaughn) as a 1B/DH type.

Another potential piece for the Tigers who mirrors the exciting story of Yermin Mercedes on the South Side is Akil Baddoo. A highly regarded high school player from Georgia, Akil Baddoo, was a 2nd round selection by the Twins in the 2016 draft. With the Twins stacked with OF prospects like Alex Kirilloff, they exposed Baddoo in the Rule 5 draft  last year and the Tigers snatched him up.

He forced his way onto the roster this year with a scorching spring training, then smoked a home run on the first ever pitch he saw in the major leagues. He then went on to hit a grand slam a day later, and walked the team off in the 9th with a pinch hit single after that. Things have gotten a little more difficult since that first week, but he’s still hitting .260 with 4 dingers and 19 batted in. Odds are he’ll end up in a platoon with his difficulty hitting left handed pitching, but he’s the kind of breakout guy the Tigers need to progress to that next level.

As for the Sox, after their sweep of the Texas Rangers this past weekend they’re looking to go on a nice dash this homestand before they have to hit the road again next week. The Tigers present the perfect opportunity to do that, as their young pitching staff has hit a bump in the road early on this season. Casey Mize has had trouble with the long ball, and Jose Ureña has had difficulty with walks in his first few starts. Both stats are the type that the White Sox hitters easily capitalize on, as walks and dingers are kind of their thing. The 3rd projected starter for the Tigers is currently their most successful one, Matthew Boyd. With a 2-2 record and a sub 2 ERA he’s been able to keep the ball in the yard and on the ground, which has eluded him in the past few seasons. The one thing working against him this series is the fact that he’s left handed, and the Sox penchant for skulling left handed pitchers is well known.

The wind is going to be blowing tonight, and the weather warm. The Sox bats are heating up, with 27 runs in their last 4 starts. In that span Jose Abreu has 3 dingers and 6 of his 17 RBIs on the season. Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert are coming around as well, with Moncada raising his average from .180 9 days ago to .258 now. He’s driving the ball to all fields, and knocked out an oppo dinger in game 1 against the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how LaRussa uses Kopech this series, as if Cease is unable yet again to get out of the 4th inning, he realistically could step in especially with Lance Lynn rumored to return on Friday night against Cleveland.

The hitting is there, the pitching is there (minus Dylan Cease on Thursday) and the time is ripe for the Sox to go on a tear and take the top of the division away from the stupid Royals, who nobody believes are going to be able to stay there anyways. The table is set perfectly, all the pieces in place…just need to take advantage of it.

Let’s Go Sox

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