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Tigers vs. Blue Jays Preview: Welcome to June, where things get a lot harder

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The Tigers’ June schedule is much more difficult than April and May were.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Do yourself a favor, and don’t look at the Tigers’ upcoming schedule. It’s... not great. The Tigers kick off the month of June by welcoming the Toronto Blue Jays into town this weekend for a three-game series. The Jays, while talented, are below .500 this year and also struggling to stay healthy. Easy enough, right?

The Tigers then play eight games in the next seven days against the Yankees, Red Sox and Indians.

Fortunately for Detroit, five of those eight games (including Monday’s doubleheader) come at home, where the Tigers have performed very well this season. The Indians have seemingly turned on the afterburners, but were nearly swept in a four-game set at Comerica Park in May.

But there’s not as much reason for optimism against the AL East’s finest. Both Boston and New York are among MLB’s elite this year, and locked into a two-team race atop their division. Both teams are more than 10 games above .500 on the road, and have as deep and talented of rosters as you will see in the modern game. Things get a little easier after that, but the Tigers still have a lot of games remaining against some very good teams, including those listed above, the Astros, and almost everyone in the NL Central.

For now? Just be thankful Toronto is willingly playing without their best player.

Toronto Blue Jays (25-31) at Detroit Tigers (26-30)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Bluebird Banter
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Jaime Garcia (2-3, 5.52 ERA) vs. LHP Blaine Hardy (1-0, 2.70 ERA)

Game 57 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Garcia 45.2 21.1 10.3 5.37 0.0
Hardy 20.0 20.7 4.9 3.47 0.5

Jaime Garcia was placed on the disabled list in mid-May after a rough start against the New York Mets. He gave up six runs in 3 23 innings, ballooning his ERA to 6.28. Eleven days later, Garcia returned cold turkey to toss seven innings of one-run ball in Philadelphia, cutting his ERA by nearly a full run. It was an electric performance, but one that has been exceedingly rare for the 31-year-old lefthander in recent years. He pitched well enough to earn some bare-bones interest at the trade deadline last year, but didn’t exactly wow anyone when pitching for three different teams last year.

Garcia’s last above-average season was back in 2015, when he posted a 2.63 ERA for the Cardinals. However, this was during an injury-plagued stretch of his career; he only pitched 129 23 innings that year, and was limited to even fewer frames than that in his previous four seasons. He hasn’t been anywhere near as good since then, but has totaled 328 23 innings in the past two years, his highest two-season inning total since 2011-12. He’s fine as a capable innings eater at the back of the rotation, but not someone that should be leading your rotation in any significant categories.

Key matchup: Miguel Cabrera vs. a month off between plate appearances

Sorry for the light analysis here — we’d like to get the game preview up before the game, after all — but Cabrera has gone nearly a full month without any sort of game action. If there’s anyone that can come back without a rehab stint and still go 4-for-4 with three extra-base hits (hint hint, Miguel) it’s Cabrera. But don’t be surprised if there’s a little rust too.

Prediction

Hardy and the Tigers keep rolling and take game one.

Gameday reading