Players Weekend is off to a good start, despite the awful jerseys. If the Tigers can win today, that would be two wins in a row. I don’t want to get any hopes up, but that has happened already this month. Surprise arm Edwin Jackson will be on the mound and he does have a 2-1 record in August.
Look, when the news broke earlier this month that Detroit had selected the contract of Jackson my exact reaction involved laughter. Well, he has made three starts and it turns out laughter was not the right response to have. His performance was rocky with Toronto, but he gave up a total of three runs in his first two starts with the Tigers. His third start, against the Astros, resulted in four earned runs and a loss. In those three starts Jackson carries an ERA of 3.86, but his FIP is 5.18.
One of the things to watch today is what kind of pitcher Jackson will be. It seems in every game, he finds something different that works. Against the Royals, he wasn’t creating many grounders, only at a 36.2 percent clip, but the BABIP was a meager .167. The next game that ground ball percentage was up to 69.2 percent with a similar effectiveness. In fact, the only runs to score off him in both games were via homeruns. The major difference against the Astros was his the fact that he walked four batters. He has yet to have a start with Detroit go less than five innings, so hopefully that stays consistent.
The Twins are sending out Kyle Gibson, so we will see what kind of offense the Tigers have today. After putting up five runs on Jose Berrios yesterday, they have to be feeling good.
Detroit Tigers (39-87) at Minnesota Twins (77-51)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
Pitching Matchup: RHP Edwin Jackson (3-6, 8.46 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (11-6, 4.40 ERA)
Key matchup: Dawel Lugo/Victory Reyes vs. pressure
This might reach farther than just Lugo and Reyes, but the fact remains that they need to perform. After Jeimer Candelario and Christin Stewart were activated and optioned, it became obvious that Lugo and Reyes would be the move. There is more room now that Niko Goodrum is on the IL.
Lugo’s OPS+ is at 33; Reyes is currently at 83. Neither is a good number. By a different measurement, Lugo is worth 40 wRC+ and -0.8 fWAR in his 162 PA. Reyes has 146 PA and is worth 85 wRC+ and 0.1 fWAR. By a lot of measurements, both are performing below average. The thought has to be to get them time in the majors to elevate their play to what has been seen at the minor league level. Lugo has been a 118 wRC+ player with Toledo, and Reyes 103. That being said, there has to be an end to the rope soon for the pair. That is where the pressure comes in. They will be in the starting lineup for the time being and they need to perform or their chances with the Tigers might be close to an end.
I have faith in the Tigers today, so I will stay optimistic. The Tigers will win two games in a row for the second time in August. Weirder things have happened in baseball, probably.