Detroit at Toronto, July 28-31

Thursday, July 28 2022 @ 03:00 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

Things have not gone as planned for the 2022 Tigers.

After four dismal seasons playing worse than .400 baseball, hitting something very near rock bottom with their horrific 47-114 log in 2019, the Tigers showed signs of promise a year ago. Under new manager A.J. Hinch, they went 77-85. This winter, they invested in several free agents: starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Pineda along with shortstop Javier Baez. The traded with the Reds for catcher Tucker Barnhart and just before this season began obtained outfielder Austin Meadows from Tampa Bay. They were making moves! They also hoped to turn first base over to Spencer Torkelson, the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, and Detroit's reward for losing 114 games. Torkelson had hit 30 HRs while moving up through three minor league levels in 2021. They were bringing back a pair of very promising young starters in Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize. They likely weren't yet ready to contend, but respectability was at last in sight.

But Torkelson hit .197/.282/.295 with just 5 HRs in half a season, and is back in AAA. Meadows, who hit 27 HRs and drove in 106 runs for Tampa Bay just a year ago, hasn't hit any homers for Detroit. Zero. He also hasn't played since mid-June with strains of both Achilles tendons. Their offense has plummetted off a cliff, and is falling, falling, falling - they've scored just 3.22 runs per game, making them the least offensive crew in the majors. Jonathan Schoop, who hit .278/.320/.4345 with 22 HRs last year? This time around, it's .207/.241/.307 with 6 HRs in 94 games. Baez has hit .218/.259/.374 and is signed for five more years after this one. Jeimer Candelario, who last season hit .271/.351/.443 with 16 HRs? How about .207/.271/.368 with 2 HRs. Robbie Grossman hit 23 homers a year ago. He's got just 2 this year. Miguel Cabrera just went 51 games without a homer - still, power outage notwithstanding, the old fellow has actually been the best hitter on the team, along with backup catcher Eric Haase and utility man Harold Castro (lately playing first base in place of Torkelson.)

Rodriguez made just 8 starts (1-3, 4.39) and hasn't pitched since mid-May while dealing with some personal issues. Casey Mize made two starts before going on the IL with elbow problems - he just last week had Tommy John surgery, so he's going to miss much of next season as well. Michael Pineda missed six weeks earlier this season, came back to make five less than impressive starts in July, and has gone back on the IL. Matt Manning opened the season filling in for Pineda - he made two starts and has been on the IL ever since. Beau Brieske filled one of the open slots in the rotation until he was shelved with a forearm problem last week. Wily Peralta, who pitched very effectively in the 2021 rotation, has spent this season in the bullpen, but he's been out with a strained hamstring. Rony Garcia is listed as Saturday's starter, but he came out of his last start with a sore arm, having just returned from the IL because of shoulder soreness.

Tarik Skubal has pitched pretty well (7-8, 3.99) and the bullpen has been rather good, led by all star closer Gregory Soto. They'll be missing veteran southpaw Andrew Chafin this weekend - he appears to be the only unvaccinated Tiger. They'll be handing the ball to our old chum Drew Hutchison on Saturday. Hutchison turns 32 next month and you have to like the way he's hung in there. Since being traded by the Jays in 2016 (for Francisco Liriano, Reese McGuire, and Harold Ramirez - no wonder the Pirates are so bad), he's passed through these organizations: Phillies, Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees, Twins, Angels, and now Tigers. Hey, there are worse ways to make a living and he's earned a few million dollars along the way. Let them tell you when you can't do it anymore.

The Jays took two of three from the Tigers last month. The Jays won 10-1 in the Friday night opener; Jose Berrios pitched eight strong innings and Gurriel, Springer, and Bichette all hit early homers to ruin Elvin Rodriguez' evening. But Beau Brieske and four relievers shut down the Jays on Saturday afternoon, dealing Kevin Gausman a tough 3-1 loss. Toronto took the finale 6-0 as Ross Stripling and three relievers faced just one batter over the minimum, allowing the Tigers just two singles on the day. A two-run homer by Vlad Guerrero keyed a four run inning off Tarik Skubal, who came into the game 5-2, 2.33, but would lose his first of five in a row (0-5, 9.00) before getting himself turned back in the right direction.

Yusei Kikuchi comes off the IL to start tonight - there will be a corresponding roster move, but I haven't heard yet what it is. We can take odds, I suppose - Beasley? Castillo? Banda? One of those guys, surely. We are informed that Kikuchi has changed the grip on his slider to make it more of an actual slider and also changed his throwing program to create a more athletic motion. We shall see, I suppose.


Thu 28 July - Alexander (2-3, 4.05) vs Kikuchi (3-5, 5.12)
Fri 29 July - B.Garcia (---, -.--) vs Manoah (11-4, 2.24)
Sat 30 July - Hutchison (1-4, 4.84) vs Stripling (5-3, 3.10)
Sun 31 July - Hill (1-2, 5.57) vs Berrios (7-4, 5.20)