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Tigers vs. Angels Preview: Daniel Norris takes the hill against L.A.

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The Angels counter with rookie Griffin Canning in the series opener.

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Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Daniel Norris was always going to make the starting rotation at some point in 2019, although few expected it to be so soon. The circumstances are not ideal, but the not-really-so-young-anymore lefthander has to be excited to once again look to prove he deserves a place in the long-term plan. The Tigers, of course, want everything to work out for him, but Norris has struggled to put it all together.

Thus begins another stint that sees him take the mound every fifth day. So far the results have been good, with two solid starts and one rough one, leaving him with a 3.00 ERA and 2.81 FIP as a starter. In these appearances, Norris is averaging 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings to just 2.4 walks, both better than his career numbers. Though the sample size is small, this could be a sign of him finally turning the page.

The one issue for Norris, however, is a continuation of his never-ending struggle. Even when healthy — which is never a given — he rarely is able to pitch deep into games. On cue, Norris has thrown exactly five innings in each of his starts this season. Perhaps this is due to his transition from the bullpen, or maybe it is just early in the season, but for him to have any sort of long-term success, he must find a way to rack up more innings each time out.

Los Angeles Angels (15-19) vs. Detroit Tigers (15-16)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Halos Heaven
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Griffin Canning (0-0, 6.23 ERA) vs. LHP Daniel Norris (1-0, 3.47 ERA)

Game 32 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Canning 4.1 33.3 5.6 4.07 0.1
Norris 23.1 19.4 7.1 4.65 0.3

Griffin Canning has been a popular name over the past week, rising up the ranks and making his major league debut at 22 years old. Though he struggled a bit in Triple-A last season, he opened the year with three excellent starts to earn the promotion. He struck out six Blue Jays in his first big league outing, but also gave up three runs in 4 13 innings.

Though first-start jitters can be excused, the fact that Canning did not make it out of the fifth inning is not a huge surprised. Like his counterpart Norris, the youngster has consistently struggled with getting deep into game as well. Canning averaged 5 ⅓ innings in his first three Triple-A starts this year and under 4 23 innings per outing in 13 Triple-A starts last season.

This Tigers offense might not cause many problems for him, but Canning will obviously need to make some adjustments if he wants to last in Los Angeles. The strikeout-heavy pitcher should have a fun time against the Detroit hitters, who rank first in the majors in strikeouts over the past two weeks. He may give up a few runs at well, but odds are he looks like a competent starter.

Key matchup: Daniel Norris vs. the sixth inning

The Angels are league-average in offense this season and have been near the top 10 as of late. Norris has topped out at 87 pitches this year, so maybe he has a little leeway for elongating his outing, but he still must pitch more efficiently. The strikeout and walk numbers are encouraging, but the Detroit front office and coaching staff will have to see more to be really sold on Norris. Logic would say that he will have every chance to prove his value this season, but this could be his last sustained opportunity, so every start counts.

Prediction

Norris pitches decently, but the rookie tames the Tigers offense.