Well, that didn’t take long.
Just over a day after I politely requested that the Tigers make a few changes down the stretch of the 2019 season season, we have already seen my plans come to fruition. Not only will catching prospect Jake Rogers be called up prior to Tuesday’s game, but the Tigers also gave Niko Goodrum a well-deserved start in the infield. Goodrum, the Tigers’ most valuable position player this year, walked and scored a run in a 7-2 victory, just one day after hitting a home run as the team’s shortstop in Seattle.
Coincidence? I think not.
Goodrum, Rogers, and the Tigers will have a chance to make it two in a row on Tuesday against the Angels, who have struggled a bit over the past week. They dropped three of four to the lowly Baltimore Orioles before losing Monday’s series opener. Their fans are not in a great place right now. And while they are over .500 on the year and in the month of July, they have lost ground in the division and the AL Wild Card race.
Unless things turn around quickly for the Halos, we could be looking at yet another season with a Mike Trout-less postseason. While it would be great for the sport for its biggest star to finally get some playing time under the bright playoff lights... a win would clinch the Tigers’ first series win in Anaheim since 2009.
I want the latter to happen just because of how weird it would be.
Detroit Tigers (31-71) at Los Angeles Angels (55-53)
Time/Place: 10:07 p.m., Angels Stadium of Anaheim
SB Nation site: Halos Heaven
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Drew VerHagen (1-1, 14.40 ERA) vs. RHP Griffin Canning (3-6, 5.15 ERA)
Game 106 Pitching Matchup
Griffin Canning looked sharp in a start at Comerica Park earlier this year, striking out seven in 5 2⁄3 innings in a 5-2 Angels win. That has been a common refrain for opposing pitchers, but was a solid performance nonetheless for the 23-year-old Canning, who was, at the time, making the second start of his major league career. Things have gone a bit sideways for him since then, as the 5.23 ERA in his 13 appearances since that previous meeting suggests, but his underlying numbers are fairly impressive.
Notably, Canning has racked up 66 strikeouts in those 63 2⁄3 innings, and 79 punchouts in 73 1⁄3 total frames this year. His home run rate is the problem, though; he has coughed up 1.72 dingers per nine innings, resulting in a 4.82 FIP despite his solid strikeout and walk numbers. He has had a few horrible outings of late — the Orioles touched him up for five runs in a relief appearance last week and he walked six hitters in just 1 1⁄3 frames against Houston earlier this month — but there have been some nice performances mixed in along the way, including that first meeting with the Tigers.
Key matchup: Drew VerHagen vs. getting hitters out
We’ll give the offense a pass today after they put up seven runs on Monday, so today’s target goes to one Mr. VerHagen, who has gone without mention so far in this preview. VerHagen started out nicely against the Mariners last week, yet another sign that he could be an effective reliever at the major league level, but the wheels quickly fell off after that. He has given up 16 hits and 14 walks in 10 major league innings this year, good enough for a clean 3.00 WHIP. Worse yet, seven of those 16 hits have gone for extra bases, and opponents are hitting a Trout-ian .356/.517/.622 against him.
The weird Anaheim stuff comes out in full force in this one.