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Tigers vs. Blue Jays Preview: Detroit takes their losing streak on the road

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The Tigers have lost nine games in a row and now have to head out on the road, where they have struggled this season.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers are not a good team on the road. There are a number of reasons why, as Zane pointed out earlier this morning, but the result is an awful 13-25 record away from Comerica Park. That record looks even worse if you don’t count Detroit’s dominance over the Chicago White Sox. Even with those wins, though, they have been outscored by 60 runs in 38 games.

Worse yet, the Tigers have to take a nine-game losing streak with them on the road. They will first face the Toronto Blue Jays, who haven’t been all that great at home. They are just 20-20 at Rogers Centre, with one more run scored than allowed. The Jays have been a bit better of late, with a 12-12 record in June following a disastrous May.

The Tigers, on the other hand, let a nice opportunity slip away. Prior to their recent skid, the Tigers were actually playing above .500 ball in the month of June. They were 10-7 in the month heading into their five-game stretch in Ohio, but are now looking at just a .385 win percentage this month.

Detroit Tigers (36-46) at Toronto Blue Jays (37-43)

Time/Place: 7:07 p.m., Rogers Centre
SB Nation site: Bluebird Banter
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Francisco Liriano (3-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (0-5, 6.80 ERA)

Game 83 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Liriano 61.2 19.1 12.7 4.88 0.2
Stroman 42.1 18.8 9.6 4.23 0.4

Marcus Stroman’s ERA is ugly, but I wouldn’t pay much attention to it. He has only made eight starts so far this season, and seven of them came in April and early May. He gave up a whopping 7.71 ERA in those seven outings, and was placed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue shortly after start number seven. There’s no telling how much the shoulder was bothering him early on — his ERA was nearly 9.00 in April before he improved in May — but it’s pretty apparent there was some correlation.

If Stroman’s last start is any indication, consider that shoulder issue a thing of the past. Stroman made his first MLB start in nearly two months last Saturday, and blanked the Los Angeles Angels for five innings out in Anaheim. Stroman had to scatter six hits to do so, but he struck out five while allowing just one walk. He recorded his other outs in vintage Stroman fashion too, with nine coming via groundout.

His velocity was also up a bit in that last start. Sure, it could just be adrenaline going — six weeks is a long time to be out of commission, especially for someone as competitive as Stroman — but his two-seamer was over half a mile per hour faster than it was back in April and May. His cutter also ticked upward by roughly 0.5 mph, though he still prefers to throw his slider more often. He still relies heavily on the fastball, though, with the curveball and changeup each coming in about five percent of the time.

This isn’t actually related to this game but it is infuriating nonetheless

Key matchup: The Tigers vs. scoring on the road

As Zane pointed out earlier, this Tigers team has been awful away from home this season, especially at the plate.

On the road, the team has lacked their knack for extra-base hits, as they have only amassed 71 doubles, six triples, and 28 home runs away from Comerica in 2018. Sure, they have had 1,619 plate appearances at home and only 1,444 on the road this year, but their road line of .235/.297/.362 says it all: they are just not hitting on the road. A .297 on-base percentage as a team is not going to win games (just imagine if these numbers did not include the six games at Guaranteed Rate Field).

Rogers Centre is a bit of a launching pad, but the Tigers have struggled in other hitter-friendly venues too. Add in their struggles against righthanders and a supposedly resurgent Stroman, and it’s tough to see the Tigers plating too many runs in this game.

Prediction

Stroman and the Jays hand the Tigers their 10th consecutive loss.

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