Quick, what’s the Tigers’ record at Fenway Park over the past five years? While it may seem like Detroit has struggled in Boston for time immemorial, they have actually held their own in Beantown over the past several years. In fact, they were downright dominant prior to this year. From 2014 to 2017, the Tigers posted an 8-4 record against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, including a pair of sweeps. Tigers fans will remember the 2014 sweep that improved the team’s record to 27-12, but Detroit also swept the Sox in 2016 when Boston won an AL East title.
But after two awful games, it’s hard to remember how good the Tigers have been in Boston lately. They have been out-scored 13-1 in the series so far, and haven’t even faced Boston’s best starters.
Once again, the Tigers will avoid Chris Sale; Boston will instead rely upon rookie Jalen Beeks, while the Tigers turn to Matthew Boyd. Can Detroit stave off a sweep and head into the weekend on a high note?
Detroit Tigers (29-34) at Boston Red Sox (43-19)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Fenway Park
SB Nation site: Over the Monster
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (3-4, 3.23 ERA) vs. LHP Jalen Beeks (3-3, 2.56 ERA in AAA)
Game 65 Pitching Matchup
Jalen Beeks may sound like a fake name, but he is a real person who will be making his MLB debut for the Red Sox on Thursday. Beeks, 24, is a former 12th round pick from Arkansas who has put up solid if unspectacular numbers throughout his ascent up the minor league ranks. He has upped his strikeout rate in each of his four professional seasons, and is fanning an incredible 35.4 percent of hitters at Triple-A this year. His command has been solid as well, with a 6.2 percent walk rate in 56 1⁄3 innings down on the farm.
The uptick in strikeouts seems to be due to a refinement of his mechanics. Sox Prospects, which ranked Beeks the No. 5 prospect in the organization this spring, detailed what has changed.
Since he entered the organization, Beeks’ delivery has drastically improved. Even though there is still effort, he does a good job repeating it over the duration of his outings. He starts on the first base side of the rubber with his feet facing the first base dugout. He doesn’t use a windup and comes set with his hands low down by his belt. After his hands break he has a stab behind, but does a good job hiding the ball behind his body until very late. Beeks gets added deception from his front side when he extends his front leg during his leg kick. Beeks has a quick arm, and from the stretch he will vary his times to the plate, sometimes utilizing a slide step while other times using a leg kick of varying heights.
Despite all the strikeouts in the minor leagues, Beeks still has a back-end starter’s profile. His fastball sits in the 90-92 mile per hour range, and topped out around 94 in a handful of innings in the 2016 Arizona Fall League (where Brooks Baseball captured data on his arsenal). He has developed a cutter, which is now his best secondary pitch, to go along with a changeup and curveball.
Key matchup: Beeks vs. a trip across the Pacific
Seven Red Sox starters have debuted at Fenway since 2008 and four of them (4!) have gone on to pitch in Korea (Ranaudo, Webster, Doubront and Bowden). Low bar here, Beeks.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) June 7, 2018
Here’s hoping Beeks has an awful debut but then pitches well enough after that to stick around in the states.
Boyd and the Tigers avoid the sweep.
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