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Tigers vs. Nationals Preview: Gregory Soto gets another start

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Can Soto notch his first major league win today?

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, everybody! Who wants to watch a man with 20 13 career innings at Triple-A try to work his way through a lineup that includes Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, and Juan Soto?

Oh, nobody? Okay. Never mind, then.

If the Tigers lose on Saturday, they will leave June with zero series wins. They are probably going to leave the month with zero series wins anyhow, as Sunday’s matchup will feature Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann. That’s right: two player pitching against their former teams. One team is probably very happy things went the way they did. The other team is on an eight-game losing streak and could very well pass the Baltimore Orioles to become the worst team in baseball in the coming weeks and months — oh my, there are still months left to this season.

But I digress (besides, we all liked the Jordan Zimmermann deal at the time).

Staturday’s matchup features two pitchers you may not have known exist entering this season — or, for some fans, today. Taking the mound for the Tigers will be Gregory Soto. Soto is making his sixth start for Detroit, but don’t let that fool you, as he has only lasted 17 23 innings in those starts. Meanwhile, the Nationals will send out Austin Voth. Yeah... I don’t recognize that name either. In fact, I asked my friend, who is a diehard Nationals fan, for his thoughts on Austin Voth, to which he responded, “.”

So, there’s that. Let’s break these guys down a little more.

Washington Nationals (41-40) at Detroit Tigers (26-51)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Federal Baseball
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Austin Voth (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. LHP Gregory Soto (0-2, 8.66 ERA)

Game 79 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Scherzer 114.1 33.8 4.8 2.12 4.7
Zimmermann 39.1 15.7 7.6 4.93 0.4

Did you know? Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann have combined for 5.1 fWAR this season! (Is that split extremely lopsided in favor of one pitcher? Perhaps.)

Austin Voth and Gregory Soto, meanwhile, have combined to put up a negative fWAR thus far this year. Now, you may say, “Wait a minute. This is a small sample size.” And you would be correct. That said, if you took a second to consider the fWAR that these two pitcher could combine for if they were allowed to pitch as many innings as Scherzer and Zimmermann have combined for this season?

I’m going to stop there, actually. Somebody might actually use that idea if I keep talking about it.

There isn’t a ton to say here. Soto has been bad. He struggles with his control, his strikeout numbers in the minors have not translated to the major leagues, and he has allowed over two home runs per nine innings. Factor those all together, and you have a pitcher with a 1.98 WHIP.

Austin Voth, meanwhile, is just okay. He has posted a 3.80 FIP in 61 13 innings in Triple-A this season. He went six strong innings in his first major league start last week against the Atlanta Braves, but he’s a former prospect who was supposed to break through with the Nationals in 2017. Nevertheless, he was averaging 94.2 miles per hour on his four-seamer against the Braves, and he has struck out 25.4 percent of batters at Triple-A. He may not match Max Scherzer’s 20 strikeout game against the Tigers, but at the same time, would any of us be shocked if Voth notched double-digit strikeouts?

Key Matchup: Gregory Soto vs. right-handed hitters

So far this season, left-handed hitters are only hitting .214 against Soto. Right-handed hitters, meanwhile, are hitting .350 against him with a 1.090 OPS. Friday’s Nationals lineup featured two lefties: Adam Eaton and Juan Soto (can we have him instead?). All in all, it may be a quick outing for Soto this afternoon.

Prediction

Soto goes two innings, Voth pitches a shutout, and the Tigers move one game closer to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft.