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Tigers vs. Angels Preview: Hey, maybe this series won’t be so bad

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The Tigers have not played well in Anaheim previously, but they split with the Angels last year.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Prior to the distraction provided by today’s trade with the Oakland Athleticscheck the details here if you’re behind — the Tigers fanbase was arguably in its darkest place all season on Monday. The team was shut out for the second time in three games on Sunday, and scored just one run in their weekend series against the A’s. As a team, they are now hitting worse than the 2003 Tigers.

It can’t last, though, right? Just about every Tigers hitter is slumping at the moment, save for Jose Iglesias and Jim Adduci. Nicholas Castellanos, John Hicks, and Jeimer Candelario won’t continue to hit this poorly, and the players with a wRC+ below 20 — Ronny Rodriguez, JaCoby Jones, and Victor Reyes — will improve via dumb luck, if nothing else.

Plus, I feel like there will be an element of weird baseball at play in this series. The Tigers have been awful in Anaheim in past years, even when the club was winning AL Central Division titles. However, they split a four game road set against the Angels last year, when they finished with the worst record in baseball. It would be delightfully strange if the Tigers came in and won a three-game series against Los Angeles, just because.

Detroit Tigers (47-65) at Los Angeles Angels (55-58)

Time/Place: 10:07 p.m., Angels Stadium
SB Nation site: Halos Heaven
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (6-9, 4.22 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Tropeano (4-6, 4.94 ERA)

Game 113 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Boyd 117.1 22.0 8.0 3.85 2.1
Tropeano 71.0 20.0 10.0 5.57 -0.2

Nick Tropeano limited the Tigers to just two runs in an easy win back on May 29, but things haven’t gone so well since then. He gave up five runs in each of his next two starts, elevating his ERA to 4.83 on the season at that point. Two days later, he was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, and he missed six weeks of action. Since coming back, he hasn’t been much better. He put together a decent outing against the Astros on July 21, but has allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 12 innings since then.

As for the how and why? I don’t know that there is a lot to unpack here. Tropeano is what he is at this point: a replacement level starter who will pitch well in small spurts (1.1 fWAR in 37 23 innings back in 2015), but will falter if given a more extended look (-0.1 fWAR in 139 13 frames since then). His walk and home run rates are a bit too high, and while he’s still young-ish at 27, there isn’t much reason to believe he will take a step forward in the near future.

Key matchup: Matthew Boyd vs. doing whatever he did last time against this team

Despite having nearly three years of MLB service time under his belt, Matthew Boyd only made his first career start against the Angels back in late May. He limited the Halos to just two hits and three walks in five scoreless innings, though they drove his pitch count north of 100 pitches in those five frames. It was the start of Boyd’s peak junkballing days — he only threw his four-seam fastball 28 percent of the time in that start — but also the beginning of the end. He finished that start with a 3.00 ERA on the season, but was over a full run higher (4.18) by the end of June.

One thing working in Boyd’s favor? The Angels have an 83 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season, tied for the worst mark among all American League teams.

Prediction

The Tigers win a weird game that probably won’t end until like 2 a.m.

Gameday reading