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Tigers vs. White Sox Preview: Tyson Ross looks to right the ship

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If the Tigers offense could help Ross out, that would be great.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Five games, five losses.

The bad news? During the Tigers’ current five game losing streak, the offense has mustered a mere 2.4 runs per game. Even worse, the Tigers have only hit seven home runs this season. For context, there are currently eight players with seven or more home runs so far this year. Whether this power outage ends soon will come down to whether Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos can end their struggles. While Cabrera is posting a solid .355 on-base percentage, he has only managed a .288 slugging average to date this season. Castellanos has been better but still below average, posting a 91 wRC+ in 13 games. The good news? The Tigers are still pitching pretty well in this stretch, allowing 4.4 runs per game (although the bullpen took the loss in both games against the Pirates).

On Thursday, Tyson Ross takes the mound for Detroit. Ross did not have the greatest performance in his last start against Minnesota, going six innings while allowing four earned runs. That said, he was brilliant in his lone home start on the season, pitching seven innings while allowing only one earned run en route to the win against the Royals.

Officially sitting below .500 for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, the Tigers will now face the Chicago White Sox in a four-game home series.

Chicago White Sox (7-10) at Detroit Tigers (8-9)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Ivan Nova (0-2, 5.28 ERA) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (1-2, 3.50 ERA)

Game 18 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Tyson Ross 18 20.6 12.3 4.42 0.2
Ivan Nova 15.1 16.9 4.6 2.29 0.6

It seems like just yesterday the Tigers were facing Ivan Nova in the 2012 American League Championship Series (good times, right?). Seven years later, Nova is donning the jersey of a divisional rival. This should be good for Detroit; in eight regular season games against the Tigers, Nova has gone 0-3 with a 5.36 ERA while allowing a .324 batting average.

Thus far, Nova has managed two great starts and one terrible outing. Nova went seven innings and allowed one earned run in Cleveland during his first start of the season, and gave up one run in six innings in the Bronx on April 13. The bad one? He only lasted 2 13 innings at home against the Mariners on April 7, allowing seven earned runs. Regardless of that poor outing, that’s two road quality starts in three outings for Nova to begin the season.

While the Tigers have succeeded against Ivan Nova in the past, there is surely cause for concern in this game. Nova has already had success on the road this year and the Tigers offense is arguably the worst in baseball so far in 2019. The Tigers did go 45-35 at home and 12-7 against the White Sox in 2018, though, so anything is possible.

Key Matchup: Tigers hitters vs. doing anything, again

This was the matchup that we highlighted on Wednesday, but it still holds true. The Tigers have a league-worst .315 team slugging average thus far this season and Nova has a fantastic 2.29 FIP in limited action this year. Looking forward in this series, the Tigers will match up against red-hot Carlos Rodon on Friday before facing two struggling pitchers in Ervin Santana and Reynaldo Lopez. While the Saturday and Sunday games look like favorable matchups, the Tigers may need to take advantage of Nova today if they want to take this series.

Prediction

Tyson Ross turns in a quality start and the Tigers offense manages two home runs to end the five-game losing streak.