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Tigers vs. Orioles Preview: Can Detroit make it two in a row?

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Ryan Carpenter looks to build on his last time out.

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Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Look, there is no point in denying the truth right now. The Tigers are not a good team and have holes in almost every area of the roster. The offense is one of the worst in baseball, as is the bullpen (surprise!). Once or twice through the rotation a competent pitcher will take the mound, but the other days are pretty rough. Today is one of those days.

We parsed through Carpenter’s story prior to his last start, and one solid outing hasn’t changed much. He was unable to break into the majors until last season at 27 years old, and his 7.25 ERA in 22 ⅓ innings basically tells the story. Due to a slew of injuries and lack of other options, Carpenter has earned an encore in 2019, but the results have been just as bad.

The big problem has been keeping the ball in the park, as his 3.21 home runs per nine innings this season almost exactly matches his 3.22 rate last season. Five homers in three starts — none of which lasted over five innings — is not a recipe for success, and while his other peripherals are not quite as horrible, they do not inspire much confidence. Carpenter is who he is at this point in his career, a spot starter with little upside. Perhaps nothing encapsulates the 2019 Tigers more than this.

Detroit Tigers (20-32) at Baltimore Orioles (17-38)

Time/Place: 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards
SB Nation site: Camden Chat
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Ryan Carpenter (0-2, 9.00 ERA) vs. LHP John Means (5-4, 2.96 ERA)

Game 54 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Carpenter 14.0 18.5 6.2 6.90 -0.2
Means 48.2 18.7 7.4 4.59 0.6

On the other hand, John Means is an interesting story for Baltimore. The 26-year-old made his first career start this season and has looked solid with a 2.96 ERA. He has only gone past the fifth inning twice in his eight starts, but he has allowed three or fewer runs in every outing except one, and his 1.17 WHIP shows that he has been keeping the bases relatively clear.

Despite this early success, his 4.59 FIP indicates that some regression might lie ahead. At 7.03 strikeouts per nine innings, Means lacks the ability to dominate hitters and put them away when needed; his above-average contact rate tells the same tale. Likewise, his 1.29 home runs per nine innings are not at Ryan Carpenter-level, but ideally this number would sit a little lower.

Means allows an acceptable level of hard contact, but he generates soft contact just 13.1 percent of the time, and opponents are launching fly balls at a 43 percent rate. Without anything too special in his arsenal, the reality is that he is mostly a middle-to-back-end starter, which is completely fine. Though his numbers are bound to climb, his current ERA is a nice mark for someone getting their first real major league experience.

Key matchup: Tigers batters vs. homers

As mentioned yesterday, this section might as well be devoted to the offense on a nightly basis until the Tigers can show any sort of consistent production. In an era of juiced balls and the fly ball revolution, one team continues to sit at the bottom of the rankings in long balls. Whether the Tigers have not gotten the message or simply cannot execute, the lack of homers is just sad.

Prediction

Horrible baseball is played, as both Carpenter and the bullpen blow up.