clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (18-19) at Tigers (17-19)

The Mariners head out on a long road trip beginning in Detroit.

New York Mets v Detroit Tigers - Game One Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

I’ll let our resident Nostradamus guide us into this weekend’s series against the Tigers:

The offensive struggles continue to be a concern, but the Mariners entire run prevention unit has been outstanding with the best defense in baseball and a top-3 pitching staff in the American League. After a slow start in April, and getting through that tough stretch with a record a hair below .500, the M’s feel like they’re in a good position for a nice run through the rest of May. They’ll begin a nine-game road trip with a series in Detroit.

At a Glance

Mariners Tigers
Mariners Tigers
Game 1 Friday, May 12 | 3:40 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales LHP Matthew Boyd
48% 52%
Game 2 Saturday, May 13 | 10:10 am
RHP Bryce Miller RHP Alex Faedo
59% 41%
Game 3 Sunday, May 14 | 10:40 am
RHP Logan Gilbert LHP Joey Wentz
59% 41%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Tigers Mariners Edge
Overview Tigers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 84 (14th) 94 (9th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 4 (3rd) 11 (1st) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 112 (9th) 79 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 112 (13th) 74 (2nd) Mariners

The Tigers are in a weird position as an organization after a pretty significant step back last season. They invested a ton of money into their roster by signing Javier Báez and Eduardo Rodriguez to long-term contracts and graduated a handful of their top prospects including Spencer Torkelson; they ended up losing 11 more games last year than they did in 2021. They weren’t nearly as aggressive this offseason, hoping for continued growth from their prospects and some bounce-back campaigns from their veterans.

So far, that plan has seemingly worked out. Both Báez and Rodriguez have been much better in their second seasons in Detroit, and there are some promising signs from Torkelson and Riley Greene. They’ve been playing some pretty good baseball recently, winning their last three series against the Mets, Cardinals, and Guardians, pushing their record up to 17-19 and just 2.5 games back in the AL Central.

Tigers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Zach McKinstry 2B L 94 20.2% 11.7% 0.136 116
Javier Báez SS R 139 17.3% 5.8% 0.120 97
Riley Greene CF L 153 30.1% 7.8% 0.113 97
Spencer Torkelson 1B R 147 20.4% 6.1% 0.128 81
Nick Maton DH L 118 29.7% 11.0% 0.173 62
Andy Ibáñez 3B R 36 13.9% 2.8% 0.200 135
Akil Baddoo LF L 86 25.6% 11.6% 0.067 89
Matt Vierling RF R 122 24.6% 5.7% 0.106 81
Jake Rogers C R 76 35.5% 10.5% 0.224 89

Back on April 13, Báez was benched after running into an easy double play after forgetting how many outs there were in the second inning. Manager AJ Hinch called him out for making that mental mistake but it served as a wake up call after Báez had struggled through the worst full season of his career last year. Since then, he’s been leading the offense with a .321/.383/.488 slash line (146 wRC+) and amazingly had a streak of six games without a strikeout. The success of Torkelson and Greene are pretty critical to the Tigers future and both struggled in their rookie campaigns last season. They’ve shown signs of improvement this year, even if their overall lines look pretty similar to last year. Over the last 10 games, coinciding with the team’s hot streak, Torkelson has put up a 149 wRC+ and Greene has nearly matched him at 145.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Detroit Tigers v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

LHP Matthew Boyd

30 2/3 20.9% 8.2% 10.6% 32.6% 5.28 4.68
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 41.7% 91.1 83 133 77 0.334
Sinker 4.5% 89.4
Changeup 19.3% 79.9 81 154 164 0.255
Curveball 7.3% 73.6
Slider 27.3% 78.8 92 58 123 0.249

After rehabbing from his elbow injury and fulfilling a childhood dream by making it to the playoffs with the Mariners, Matthew Boyd returned to the team he spent the bulk of his career with on a one-year deal this offseason. He’s always had a good fastball that generates plenty of whiffs but has struggled to keep the ball in the park when batters put it in play. That’s been an issue throughout his career, and he’s consistently tinkered with his secondary offerings to counteract that home run problem. His slider was a big weapon for him previously but he’s not getting the swings and misses with it yet this year. Instead, his big strikeout weapon has been a changeup that’s developed into a secret weapon since his big breakout in 2019.

RHP Alex Faedo

18 27.9% 5.9% 14.3% 26.7% 2.50 4.21
Triple-A stats

Injuries have derailed Alex Faedo’s ascent through the Tigers organization. Selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, he was viewed as a polished starter who could move quickly through the minors. A series of injuries including Tommy John surgery made sure he missed nearly two and a half seasons of development before making his major league debut last year. He made 12 serviceable starts for Detroit, but simply making it to the big leagues was a victory for him. He started off this year in Triple-A but the Tigers called him up last weekend to take the place of Spencer Turnbull in the rotation.

LHP Joey Wentz

34 18.8% 9.0% 14.9% 37.5% 6.09 5.55
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 46.5% 93.7 82 72 94 0.371
Cutter 25.5% 85.8 94 91 112 0.351
Changeup 15.6% 86.3 83
Curveball 12.5% 77.6 100

Another former first round pick by the Braves back in 2016, Joey Wentz also made his major league debut last year. It was a pretty good start to his big league career, making seven starts with a decent strikeout-to-walk ratio and some pretty good luck on balls in play. He’s struggled with his command ever since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020 and it doesn’t look like it’s gotten any better this year. At one point in his development, his changeup was his best pitch, but he’s relied more on his cutter/slider recently. Both pitches are swing-and-miss weapons, though neither has been all that consistent over the last few years.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 23-14 0.622 -- W-W-L-W-W
Angels 20-18 0.526 3.5 L-L-W-L-L
Astros 19-18 0.514 4.0 L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 18-19 0.486 5.0 W-W-L-W-L
Athletics 8-31 0.205 16.0 L-L-L-L-L

After winning their series in Seattle, the Rangers started a four-game series against the A’s with a win last night. The Astros won their series against the Angels earlier this week and will travel to Chicago to face the reeling White Sox. The Angels will head to Cleveland to face the Guardians this weekend.