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Tigers vs. Rangers Preview: Trying to avoid another sweep

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The series has not gone well for Detroit. Let’s see if they can salvage one.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Another series, another loss.

The Detroit Tigers only have one more chance left to collect their first series win of June, but in the meantime, they will be trying to avoid their third sweep of the month. After losses on Tuesday and Wednesday, Spencer Turnbull steps out to continue his breakout rookie season during his first career start against the Texas Rangers. Turnbull has been phenomenal in 2019, sporting the best ERA among Detroit’s starting pitchers. But even more than most, he has continually suffered from a lack of run support. The Tigers have been shut out in five of his 16 starts this season, including three of his last four games.

Obviously, runs have been difficult to come by for Detroit this season. Their 263 runs scored are dead last in baseball. They also rank in the bottom three in home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. Scoring four runs in two games against the Rangers so far — albeit against strong starting pitchers — have not helped.

Luckily for the Tigers, there is a much clearer path to victory on Thursday than in games one and two of the series against a more manageable starter.

Texas Rangers (44-36) at Detroit Tigers (26-49)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Lone Star Ball
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Ariel Jurado (4-3, 4.44 ERA) vs. LHP Spencer Turnbull (3-7, 3.29 ERA)

Game 77 Pitching Matchups

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Jurando 50.2 18.7 6.3 4.52 0.7
Turnbull 87.2 21.2 8.6 3.81 1.8

Ariel Jurado debuted in 2018 primarily as a starter-relieving-opener type with a handful of starts, pitching to the tune of a 79 ERA+ and 5.01 FIP.

After starting this season in Triple-A, Jurado was recalled in late April to come out of the bullpen. He was eventually summoned back into a starter role after posting a 1.50 ERA in eight appearances out of the ‘pen. Since then, however, he has allowed 23 earned runs in 38 23 innings across seven starts and (one late-inning call) including a 7.29 ERA in June.

Strangely, right-handed hitters have hit Jurado harder than lefties — presumably an advantage for the righty-heavy Tigers lineup — and his road ERA is 5.18.

Key matchup: Jeimer Candelario vs. himself

After being demoted following the month of May — where he hit .105 on either end of a separate send-down — Candelario has returned to the big leagues, presumably with renewed confidence. The third baseman mashed in Toledo and returned to the lineup Wednesday with two hits, including a double off potential All-Star lefthander Mike Minor.

If Candelario can return to seeing (and hitting) the ball the way he is capable of doing, his production would be a welcome addition to a starved offense.

Prediction

Okay, this one actually feels pretty winnable. With a favorable pitching matchup and great weather in the forecast, the Tigers should feel good about their chances.

This is why I am predicting that the Rangers win in a blowout after Turnbull throws six strong innings and the bullpen hands everything away.