If you were hoping that a series sweep at the hands of the worst team in baseball would serve as some sort of wake-up call, or that the fates would smile down upon the Tigers following their embarrassing homestand, giving them an easy matchup to finally snap their losing streak, think again.
They are facing Noah Syndergaard on Friday.
Now, while this seems like a disastrous matchup on paper, Syndergaard hasn’t exactly been the same flamethrowing hellbeast we have seen in previous years. Sure, he is still throwing like said hellbeast — his four-seam fastball has averaged 98.2 miles per hour in 2019 — but the results have not been otherworldly. Opponents are hitting a decent .258 against that four-seamer and slugging an okay-ish .371, and have managed a .720 OPS against all of his offerings. Righties have somehow fared even better, with a .262/.312/.447 line off him in 155 plate appearances this season.
The result? A 4.50 ERA that would be the highest of his career by a wide, wide margin. Even if that ERA were to regress to his FIP (3.54) or xFIP (3.72), we are still looking at a lesser Thor than has been on the mound in recent seasons.
This bodes well for a Tigers lineup that... well, you know.
2019 Tigers through May 22nd:— Peter K (@FrogTownTigers) May 23, 2019
.280 wOBA, 72 wRC+, -1.3 fWAR
2003 Tigers season total:
.296 wOBA, 80 wRC+, -1.2 fWAR
This offense is officialy on track to be WORSE than that 2003 team...
Detroit’s hitters have the second-worst OPS in baseball against right-handed pitching this season, and are tied for worst when using wRC+ (to adjust for ballpark and opponent and all that jazz). They have just three players who have produced above-average numbers against righties in 2019, while four other projected starters are at a 50 wRC+ or worse. And that doesn’t even include starter Gregory Soto, who will have to swing a bat in this game because the National League is weird.
Detroit Tigers (18-29) at New York Mets (24-25)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Citi Field
SB Nation site: Amazin’ Avenue
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Gregory Soto (0-2, 10.80 ERA) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (3-4, 4.50 ERA)
Game 49 Pitching Matchup
On the other side, the Tigers will turn to Gregory Soto, who actually got a full four days rest in between starts this time around. While pitching on short rest certainly wasn’t the issue with him in his first three outings — I’d say some combination of inexperience and command (or lack thereof) was the reason — it likely didn’t help. Depending on how things go, we might see Soto work a little deeper into the game than we have previously.
Then again, we might not. Soto has been better in his last two starts (a 7.50 ERA in his last six innings), but he still tends to lose his command after two or three innings. His splits don’t quite reflect it yet, but Soto has done a decent job of skating through the opposing lineup a first time in his last two outings. He threw a pair of scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics last time out, which caught our eye, but promptly fell apart after that.
Could fatigue be a factor? Possibly.
We shouldn’t trust this chart too much — Soto has only worked into the fifth inning once — but it hints that the Tigers might want to use him as more of an opener or multi-inning reliever for now.
Of course, he could turn around and throw six scoreless tonight — the Mets strike out a lot against lefties, it’s possible — and then we go back to the “short rest” theory.
Key matchup: Tigers bullpen vs. getting outs
Only two MLB bullpens have posted a higher ERA than Detroit’s in the month of May, and no AL club has been worth fewer WAR. They need to be better, full stop.
Instead of wallowing in their misery, however, let’s look at some of the more amusing parts of these splits.
- The Tigers’ bullpen has only been responsible for four of Detroit’s 15 losses this month.
- The two guys at the back end of the ‘pen — Shane Greene and Joe Jimenez — have a combined 2.25 ERA with 21 strikeouts to five walks in 16 innings.
- Nick Ramirez has also held his own, with a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings.
- The rest of the bullpen has an 8.68 ERA in 56 innings since May 1.
Praying to one day have a semi decent bullpen pic.twitter.com/NdD11Gdozh— Motor City Bengals (@MCB_Tigers) May 19, 2019
The Tigers snap their losing streak because baseball is weird.