So here we are. Gone are Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene. The calendar has turned to August and this horrid season is now approaching its merciful conclusion. How this year is remembered in hindsight, however, is still up in the air.
With a top-five draft pick all but assured, wins and losses are even more meaningless than ever before. The Tigers can now use the remaining two months to give the youth a shot and provide the fan base with even a small glimmer of hope for the future. Of course, this is what we have been begging for all year, so maybe this request remains futile.
There will be a few fun names in the lineup at the very least. Jake Rogers has already made himself known both at and behind the plate, and newcomer Travis Demeritte is set to make his major league debut. Meanwhile, Tyler Alexander will make start number four on Friday night, and the results so far are not too shabby.
Buckle in, everyone. The road ahead will be bumpy, but at least it is almost over.
Detroit Tigers (32-72) at Texas Rangers (54-54)
Time/Place: 8:05 p.m., Globe Life Park in Arlington
SB Nation site: Lone Star Ball
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (0-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (13-6, 3.83 ERA)
Game 106 Pitching Matchup
Lance Lynn joined the Rangers this past offseason and is looking like a quality investment. His 4.9 fWAR is far and away the best mark on the team, thanks to a stellar 2.94 FIP. In fact, he ranks second in baseball among all qualified starters in fWAR and is on track to end with the highest mark in his career.
Lynn has been experiencing his best strikeout numbers ever, fanning over 10.2 batters per nine innings. His fastball has seen a tick up in velocity to 94 mph, and he is getting great usage out of his slider. The bigger impact, though, may be his walk rate, which has dropped to 5.6 percent from a career average of 8.8 percent.
The Tigers are yet to face Lynn this season, but the story is probably written already. Castellanos was the only batter with a wRC+ over 100, and his departure leaves yet another hole in a lineup full of question marks. Maybe Demeritte can bring a spark to the offense; his 137 wRC+ in Triple-A is nothing to scoff at.
Key Matchup: Alexander vs. bouncing back
This will be Alexander’s fourth career start, and he comes in with a solid 3.85 ERA and 3.65 FIP. His first two outings were excellent, with just three earned runs in 12 innings total, but he struggled last week in Seattle, giving up four runs in 4 1⁄3 innings. The Texas offense has been rough as of late, ranking near the bottom of the league over the past month. This is a good opportunity for Alexander to get back on track.
The newer Tigers continue to excite, but it is not enough to take down another quality Lynn outing.