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Tigers vs. Pirates Preview: Battle of the returners

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Both of Wednesday’s starters are making their first appearances after missing extended periods of time.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After the Detroit Tigers took game one of this mid-week two-game series against their National League “rival” Pittsburgh Pirates, they will trot out a familiar face in hopes of grabbing an abbreviated sweep.

Yes, Jordan Zimmermann is making his unceremonious return after being kept out since April with a UCL sprain. The 33-year-old started the season incredibly, taking a no-hitter deep into his Opening Day tilt followed by 6 23 innings of one run ball. The optimistic start was quickly forgotten, though, as his next four starts yielded 19 earned runs with 11 strikeouts and 10 walks in 16 23 innings before landing on the injured list after being shelled by the Boston Red Sox on April 25.

If anything, Zimmermann’s return brings a speck of certainty into a rotation that has only had three reliable starters for the better part of the season. As long as he can find a middle ground between his Cy Young start and Ryan Carpenter followup, he can at least eat innings for a team that desperately needs it.

The Pirates will send out the young upstart Trevor Williams, who is making his first start since May 16 due to an ankle sprain. Williams’ season has been far more consistent than his counterpart’s, as he has nicely allowed two earned runs or less in six of his nine starts this season.

Detroit Tigers (26-43) at Pittsburgh Pirates (32-40)

Time/Place: 7:05 p.m., PNC Park
SB Nation site: Bucs Dugout
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-4, 5.93 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Williams (2-1, 3.33 ERA)

Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Zimmermann 30.1 16.4 8.6 5.44 0.2
Williams 54.0 18.8 4.5 3.35 1.4

Key matchup: Bad defense vs. bad defense

The Pirates rank 22nd in baseball with 47 errors and the Tigers are 23rd with 49. Will Pittsburgh fall back after a three-error night on Tuesday?

Neither pitcher is particularly reliant on strikeouts meaning that the game could come down to which team does more in the field and, since neither is a sure thing to complete the routine plays, things could get interesting at PNC Park.

Prediction

Trevor Williams is coming off a shorter stint on the disabled list, is facing the worst lineup in baseball (according to ESPN, at least) and has a stronger track record from this and the past few seasons than Zimmermann.

While the game will by no means be decided immediately, we'll give the Bucs the edge going into Wednesday night.