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Motown Meetup: Mariners (48-71) at Tigers (35-80) Series Preview

Ed Killian, Tiger Pitcher
we can’t rule out seeing Ed Killian out of the bullpen in this series
Photo by Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

Well, folks, the Tigers have rolled into town. A couple weeks ago, the Mariners walloped them over a 4-game set, doing nothing for their draft position but something for my deep-seated feelings of sadness over baseball. The Tigers have 8 wins since July 1st. Eight.

At a Glance

Mariners Tigers
Mariners Tigers
Game 1 Tuesday, August 13 | 4:10 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi LHP Matt Boyd
49% 51%
Game 2 Wednesday, August 14 | 4:10 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Edwin Jackson
61% 39%
Game 3 Thursday, August 15 | 10:10 am
LHP Tommy Milone RHP Spencer Turnbull
51% 49%

Team Overview

Overview Tigers Mariners Edge
Overview Tigers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 78 (15th in AL) 102 (7th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (DRS) -51 (13th) -67 (14th) Tigers
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (7th) 114 (13th) Tigers
Bullpen (FIP-) 110 (13th) 113 (14th) Tigers

The numbers here are actually kind of interesting: Despite being holy cow so much worse than the Mariners in the win/loss arena, the underlying numbers are actually similar. Yes, our pitching is a tire fire, but so is their hitting. Bullpens and defense? Bad and bad. Despite all this, both teams are just a win shy of their Pythag expection. Math!

Tigers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Victor Reyes CF S 101 0.320 72 -1.2
Niko Goodrum 2B S 444 0.341 96 6.3
Miguel Cabrera DH R 421 0.341 96 -4.2
Brandon Dixon 1B R 303 0.331 100 0.1
Dawel Lugo 3B R 116 0.273 43 -1.3
Harold Castro LF L 222 0.348 74 -0.3
Travis Demeritte RF R 45 0.348 113 0.7
Jake Rogers C R 40 0.176 99 -0.6
Jordy Mercer SS R 168 0.275 82 0.2

The Tigers are in a tie with the Marlins for the worst offense in baseball, posting a 77 wRC+ (technically, by fangraphs, the Tigers are the clear worst when you factor in non-hitting contributions to fWAR). Their best hitter over 100 PA (1) has a wRC+ of 106 and (2) is Nick Castellanos, who plays for the Cubs now. Jeimer Candelario is having a disastrous 25 year old campaign, with a 64 wRC+ and a sub-Mendoza batting average of .198. Again: a 77 team wRC+. Dee Gordon put up a 77 wRC+ in his injury-filled 2018. Imagine watching that for 9 hitters every night.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

LHP Matt Boyd

140 2/3 31.9% 5.6% 17.1% 35.4% 4.16 3.78
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 49.5% 92.4 2390 92 140 117
Sinker 3.4% 90.0 2353
Changeup 5.4% 79.5 1965 148 144 99
Curveball 4.2% 72.4 2235
Slider 37.4% 79.8 2365 57 128 104

Matthew Boyd was not traded at the deadline for, uh, reasons. Consensus seems to be that the Tigers just asked for too much. He continues to be one of the Tigers’ lone bright spots this year, and has posted 3.3 fWAR over 140.2 IP with an eyepopping 12.03 K/9 number. Just 6-8 with a 4.16 ERA, he’ll entire arbitration this winter with relatively weak traditional numbers that have a lot to do with the bad team he plays on. Fortunately for him, the strikeout spike should help him make his case. The Tigers would still do well to move him in the offseason for whatever they can.

RHP Edwin Jackson

34 2/3 13.6% 8.9% 26.5% 41.4% 9.35 8.24

I gotta be honest: I had no idea Edwin Jackson was still pitching in the majors. Technically, that’s a recent development, as he caught on in the minors with Detroit after Toronto cut him loose earlier this year. This will be his second start for the Tigers, and he’s, well, he’s what you would think: A pretty old starter on a pretty bad team whose main virtue is being able to huck baseballs in the general direction of home plate until there’s somehow, some way, three outs. He will throw 7.1 shutout innings against the Mariners in this game.

RHP Spencer Turnbull

107 2/3 21.1% 9.0% 9.9% 49.2% 3.68 4.05
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 46.0% 94.0 2393 109 120 117
Sinker 19.0% 94.5 2179 120 95 98
Curveball 13.1% 80.4 2549 123 93 83
Slider 19.6% 87.1 2443 98 94 86

Though the Tigers are rough, the Mariners are actually facing two pretty good pitchers in this series (and also Edwin Jackson). Turnbull is in his first full season in the bigs. Not yet 27, the 2014 2nd-rounder out of Alabama (ROLL TIDE) has racked up 2.0 fWAR in just 107.2 IP, using his 4-pitch mix to get a decent share of strikeouts and generally keep the ball on the ground. Unlike Boyd, who came to Detroit having already debuted in the Majors with Toronto, the now-healthy Turnbull (he had a couple years of shoulder and elbow issues while in the minors) is a homegrown success story for the Tigers, and a badly needed one.

The Big Picture

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 77-41 0.653 -- W-W-W-W-L
Athletics 67-51 0.568 10.0 W-L-W-L-W
Rangers 59-59 0.500 18.0 L-L-L-W-L
Angels 58-62 0.483 20.0 L-L-W-W-L
Mariners 48-71 0.403 29.5 L-W-L-L-L

AL Wild Card

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Twins 71-47 0.602 +2.0 L-L-L-W-L
Rays 70-50 0.583 -- L-W-W-W-W
Athletics 67-51 0.568 2.0 W-L-W-L-W
Red Sox 62-59 0.512 8.5 W-W-L-L-L
Rangers 59-59 0.500 10.0 L-L-L-W-L

The only real playoff note I have here is that the Twins were, at one point not too long ago, 11.5 games up in the AL Central. They are now trailing Cleveland, and losing ground to other wild card teams. Yikes, as they say. Also, I need to speak to the person responsible about including the Rangers. What’s that? Oh, apparently I’m the person responsible. Please ignore the Rangers. They do not deserve this.

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Tigers 35-80 0.304 -- L-W-W-L-L
Orioles 39-80 0.328 2.0 L-L-W-L-L
Royals 43-76 0.361 6.0 W-L-L-W-W
Marlins 44-73 0.376 8.0 L-W-L-W-L
Mariners 48-71 0.403 11.0 L-W-L-L-L
Blue Jays 50-72 0.410 11.5 L-W-W-L-W
Pirates 49-69 0.415 12.5 L-L-L-L-W
Rockies 53-66 0.445 16.0 L-L-L-W-L
White Sox 52-64 0.448 16.5 L-W-L-W-L
Padres 55-63 0.466 18.5 W-W-W-L-L

We’re never going to catch the Tigers. It won’t happen. BUT! We just caught the Blue Jays, and are not all that far behind the Marlins! The only problem is now we have to play the Tigers.