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Tigers vs. Blue Jays Preview: Let the Chad Bell era begin

Bell will face a stiff test in Toronto on Saturday.

Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

With the Tigers playing for little more than draft position as we head down the stretch, we fans have to adjust our expectations. Our happiness should not always be determined by wins or losses, though fun wins like Friday’s are certainly nice. Maybe the Tigers lose, but a young starting pitcher had a great night. Or maybe Jeimer Candelario goes 4-for-4 and the bullpen blows a late lead.

I’m not going to tell you how to be a fan — some of you want the team to lose right now — but we will be looking a lot closer at these individual performances over the final weeks of the year.

Take Chad Bell, for instance. The 28-year-old lefthander isn’t a prospect anymore, but he put up solid numbers at Triple-A Toledo this year in between a couple lengthy stints in Detroit. He also pitched well out of the Tigers bullpen early in the year before a rough July tanked his numbers. He probably won’t factor into the Tigers’ rotation plans in 2018, but has a chance to establish himself as a long relief option.

Win or lose, keep an eye on how Bell navigates this Blue Jays lineup.

Detroit Tigers (60-80) at Toronto Blue Jays (64-77)

Time/Place: 4:07 p.m., Rogers Centre
SB Nation site: Bluebird Banter
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV (Free Game of the Day), Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Chad Bell (0-2, 5.98 ERA) vs. LHP Brett Anderson (2-3, 6.42 ERA)

Game 141 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Bell 46.2 18.1 10.2 5.52 -0.3
Anderson 33.2 14.1 7.7 4.45 0.4

Brett Anderson has looked sharp in a pair of starts since signing with the Blue Jays last month, and he was quick to let others hear about it.

The “tinkering” Anderson refers to happened in Chicago, where he only made six starts before he suffered a back injury. While Anderson is no stranger to the disabled list, it’s not like the injury cut down a promising season. Anderson allowed an 8.18 ERA in 22 innings with the Cubs, and managed just 16 strikeouts to 12 walks. He also struggled during his rehab assignment, allowing a 4.61 ERA in 27 13 frames. The Cubs designated him for assignment in late July, and he signed with the Blue Jays.

Anderson has never been a strikeout artist, instead relying weak contact and on a high ground ball rate to get outs. His fastball sits around 90-91 miles per hour these days, while most of his off-speed pitches hover in the low 80s. He throws a slider more often than his changeup or curveball, and it is his primary out pitch against right-handed hitters.

Key matchup: Chad Bell vs. right-handed hitters

Bell has only pitched 46 23 innings at the major league level this year, but his platoon splits are already fairly significant. Righties are hitting .312/.390/.552 against him this year, while lefties only have a .745 OPS. The Jays have been ever so slightly better against southpaws this year. Bell may be able to avoid lefty mashers Josh Donaldson and Steve Pearce, both of whom are questionable for Saturday’s game. If they play, Bell’s job gets a lot more difficult.

Prediction

Toronto evens the series with a win.