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Tigers vs. Twins Preview: Blaine Hardy to take on Jake Odorizzi

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My money is on Hardy, tbh.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

If someone had bet me money six months ago that Blaine Hardy would be one of the most reliable starters in the Tigers rotation, I probably would have laughed in their face. Hardy, a quality left-handed reliever, never struck anyone as a starter in the making. His skill set was one for the bullpen, and he did good work there.

Then he started to dominate in Triple-A as a pitcher, and soon the Tigers — with Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano on the mend — realized they had a guy in the minors they could use in an unexpected way. Hardy, if we overlook his last outing against the Red Sox, has been precisely what the Tigers need him to be. He’s a guy who can go five or six innings deep, and for the most part limits the damage from opposing bats.

With tonight’s outing against the Twins, he’ll be hoping to extend his record to 3-1 and erase the memory of that last shelling (where he gave away five runs in six innings, more than any of his previous three starts combined).

Minnesota Twins (28-34) at Detroit Tigers (31-36)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 4.24 ERA) vs. LHP Blaine Hardy (2-1, 3.88 ERA)

Game 68 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Odorizzi 68 23.40% 9.30% 5.1 0.3
Hardy 32 16.90% 6.20% 3.88 0.5

Leonys Martin is going to be the biggest thorn in Odo’s side. With more reps against Odorizzi than any of the others (11 at bats), Martin has managed a .364 average against him, including two RBIs. Odorizzo is coming off a really good month of May after struggling early in the year to meet the expectations he set with a strong 2017 season with the Rays.

Odorizzi’s last three starts have been anything but stellar, so he’ll be looking for a bounce back tonight against the Tigers. He’s 0-1 with a 8.36 ERA in his last three outings, so, you know... not ideal. But the Tigers can hopefully take advantage of this.

Key matchup: Walk on, Tigers

Plate discipline will be key for the Tigers today. Odorizzi’s walk numbers are creeping up towards 10% and if the Tigers are patient at the plate they can take advantage of that.

Again, here, guys like Martin will excel as Martin already has 20 walks on the season. Jeimer Candelario (24), Miguel Cabrera (21), and Victor Martinez (19) could also do well in this scenario, but Martinez hasn’t had great luck against the Twins’ righty in the past, so he’d do especially well not to take big hacks and just be patient.

Prediction

Hardy goes six innings with minimal damage, Tigers offense produces enough to carry them through the bullpen innings. Tigers win.

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