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Tigers vs. Red Sox Preview: The first half mercifully comes to an end

Detroit will face yet another former member of their rotation on Sunday.

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Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers will play their final game of the first half of the 2019 season on Sunday, and it feels like it’s about time for a break. The Tigers are 6-24 since June 1, and 10-36 since splitting a four-game series against the first-place Minnesota Twins in mid-May. Worse yet, they have been a doormat at home; the Tigers have won just three of their last 27 games at Comerica Park, the worst stretch for any MLB team since 1979.

The Tigers’ rotation, in particular, could use the break. Detroit will opt for a bullpen game on Sunday, using lefthander Gregory Soto as an opener. Soto threw 20 pitches out of the bullpen on Friday, and despite the gaudy ERA, has actually been a reliable arm in short stints. Opponents are hitting just .222/.333/.311 the first time through the order against him this year, and lefties have a .641 OPS against him in 22 major league plate appearances.

If all goes well, the Tigers won’t have to rely on Soto (and Ryan Carpenter, for that matter) so heavily after the break. Tyson Ross is eligible to come off the 60-day injured list after the break, and Spencer Turnbull should also be back soon. Lefthander Tyler Alexander pitched well enough to earn another start last week, and could be in line for a call-up next weekend. Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser will also likely see some playing time in the second half.

Until then? Let’s see if the Tigers’ bullpen (and their 5.02 ERA) can stave off a series sweep.

Boston Red Sox (48-41) at Detroit Tigers (28-56)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Over the Monster
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP David Price (6-2, 3.33 ERA) vs. LHP Gregory Soto (0-2, 8.06 ERA)

Game 86 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Price 78.1 28.0 6.0 2.90 2.3
Soto 22.1 14.7 11.0 6.29 -0.1

David Price has gotten a lot of crap from the fans and media up in Boston, and I don’t know that he has deserved any of it. He has dealt with some injury issues since signing with the Red Sox — his 2016 season is the only 200-inning campaign he has had with the Sox — but he has a 3.69 ERA (122 ERA+) and 3.99 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 559 innings across three-plus seasons.

This season has been more of the same for him. He was solid through six starts, with 42 strikeouts through his first 36 innings of the year, but then landed on the 10-day injured list with some elbow tendonitis. Since returning, Price has been even better, with a 2.98 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 13 innings. He has seven starts of seven strikeouts or more, which could prove problematic for Detroit’s swing-happy lineup.

Key matchup: The Tigers vs. sco- err, preventing runs

Detroit’s offense still ranks among the worst in baseball in nearly every statistical category over the course of the 2019 season, but runs have not been hard to come by so far this month. In five July games, the Tigers have scored 34 runs, nearly seven per game. This is tied for fourth in all of baseball, while their 116 wRC+ is just outside the top 10.

Unfortunately, the Tigers have given up 40 runs in those five July games, and have lost four of them.


Price tosses a gem and the Tigers get swept.