Saturday, June 3, 2023

Before the Tigers Come to Town


So in a few days, I'm gonna be catching a game in Philly, as I am prone to do given my 20-minute distance from the city. The Phils will be taken on the Detroit Tigers. It seems evenly matched until you remember that the Tigers are in 2nd and have a better record than the Phils.

I don't know if that says anything about the quality of the AL Central, or just the Phillies in general, but right now the Tigers are technically the favorite going into this series. Even if we're starting off with a matchup of Aaron Nola vs. Alex Faedo, the Tigers are doing better. And they're doing this with Matt Vierling, Riley Greene and Eduardo Rodriguez, three of their best players, all injured right now.

The secret, considering that this team still cannot hit home runs to save its life, is small-ball and contact hitting. The Tigers are trying to use a 'low-budget guys that work for me lately' strategy that works better with a stronger foundation [as the Rays have found out]. The Tigers got Zach McKinstry for practically nothing, and he's been a fantastic addition to this lineup, hitting .288 with 10 RBIs and 7 steals. Spencer Torkelson is actually doing well enough as a pure hitter even if his defense isn't great. Alex Lange, a reliever no one has heard of, has been stellar so far, with a 1.16 ERA and 10 saves. People like Michael Lorenzen, Akil Baddoo and Jose Cisnero are stepping in and playing intriguing roles with this team.

Yet because this is a less-divisionally-scheduled year, you're really not sure if the Tigers are a real second place team because they haven't played the Twins or Guardians many times. Are the Tigers actually better than Cleveland, or have they just had a slightly easier schedule or less late chokes? The Guardians I can point to great anchors on, like Ramirez, Gimenez and Bieber. Here, among the healthy players, we have McKinstry, who's a role-player right now, and I guess Baez, who's not playing as well as he used to. Nobody's really hitting, some of the best lineup pieces are better defensively than they are than they are at the plate, and yet they're sneaky and can pull wins out with the strength of the 'pen.

I dunno if the Tigers will be able to outhit the Phillies on Monday, but I'm certainly not counting out the possibility of a win. 

Coming Tonight: A 23-year-old RBI machine from a team that I'm guessing is gonna heat up eventually.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure Faedo will pitch, and we're definitely shorthanded with Riley Greene on the IL.

    Enjoy the game!