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Tigers vs. Athletics Preview: Set it on Fiers

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The Tigers welcome back yet another former starter with multiple no-hitters.

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Cincinnati Reds v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Things are not great right now, folks. Saturday’s loss made it six in a row for the lowly Tigers, and suddenly it appears like the inevitable has happened. No one was seriously expecting a playoff run for this team, but even a shot at a respectable record looks like be slipping away. Even though there are still over 100 games to go, it is becoming time to shift focus already.

One way to ignore the overall disappointment is to focus on some of the individuals. Detroit is hoping that Gregory Soto can turn into a bright spot this season, but his transition from Double-A has not exactly gone to plan. The 24-year-old lefty has been beaten up in his first two career starts, but injuries across the rotation have given him at least one more chance.

Soto is not a top prospect in the organization, but he should fare better than his 13.50 ERA and 8.12 FIP. However, his early struggles may reduce him to an opener role, as he was used last time out against the Astros. The Tigers do need someone to eat some innings, but it does not appear that Soto is ready to do so just yet. Then again, few other pitchers on staff have been able to do so either.

Oakland Athletics (22-25) at Detroit Tigers (18-26)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Athletics Nation
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.12 ERA) vs. LHP Gregory Soto (0-2, 13.50 ERA)

Game 46 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Turnbull 48.2 23.7 9.5 3.71 1.0
Smith 48.0 35.2 7.7 2.93 1.3

This was certainly a date circled by Mike Fiers when the schedule came out, getting to face the team that gave him…21 starts last season. Jokes side, the veteran starter was surprisingly productive at the backend of the Detroit rotation last season and pitched well enough after the trade to earn a couple more years with the Athletics.

Though his 2019 numbers do not look great, the big story for Fiers is his second career no-hitter against the Reds a couple of weeks ago. He owns a career 4.10 ERA and 4.39 FIP, but his name will forever be etched in the record books along with some of the all-time greats. Baseball can be a strange, strange sport.

Fiers has given up five or more runs on four occasions this season, but also has three scoreless starts. Given the current state of the Tigers offense, expect something closer to the latter, despite an increased walk rate and decreased strikeout rate compared to his career numbers. For the second time in five days, Detroit is likely to be worked over by a former pitcher with two no hitters to his name.

Key matchup: Nicholas Castellanos vs. May

After a career year in 2018, Nicholas Castellanos started this season out strong, posting a 108 wRC+ and a couple bombs through the first month of the season. Things have dwindled since then, however, and the last two weeks have been especially rough, with the right fielder hitting just .228/.254/.386. As a player entering a contract year, this is surely not the time to regress in production.

Prediction

Everything remains awful as Soto struggles again and the offense is locked down by Fiers.