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Tigers at White Sox Preview: This is the end (of the season) my friend

It’s been real and it’s been fun, but we can’t say it was really fun.

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MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Well folks, they say that all good things come to an end and fewer proverbs ring truer, especially when you have reached the conclusion of a sports season. While the Detroit Tigers’ 2021 campaign did not produce the best results, there were certainly far more good times than in years prior during the Gardyball era. But alas, Game 162 is finally upon us and without any postseason aspirations this will be the last time the beloved Motor City Kitties take the field until next spring.

Detroit has struggled in its culminating series against the Chicago White Sox, dropping the first game on Friday night 8-1 while a bullpen breakdown gave the home team a 5-4 win on Saturday night. This afternoon, the Tigers send one of the more surprising success stories of the past few seasons to the mound while the Pale Hose have a breakout pitcher of their own out on the bump to do battle. Here is how everything matches up for the final game of the 2021 regular season.

Detroit Tigers (76-85) at. Chicago White Sox (93-68)

Time/Place: 3:10 p.m., Guaranteed Rate Field
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (2-4, 3.95 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Cease (13-7, 3.95 ERA)

Game 162 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Alexander 100.1 19.4 6.1 4.35 1.0
Cease 161.2 32.0 9.6 3.43 4.2

Tyler Alexander has had himself a very strong third season with the Tigers, putting up both solid traditional and peripheral numbers en route to a 1 fWAR campaign. Interestingly, his K% and BB% nearly mirror that of former top prospect Casey Mize who put up 19.3 and 6.7 percent, respectively, this summer and are significantly better than Matt Manning’s numbers (14.8 and 8.6 percent, respectively). His FIP runs a little high but with a respectable 1.28 WHIP and low walk percentage, he seems to be doing fine with a pitch-to-contact approach given his inability to draw whiffs.

Here is a look at his MLB Percentile rankings per Baseball Savant.

Baseball Savant

On the mound for the Chicago is Dylan Cease, who has had a breakout this summer for the Sox. The third-year hurler really came into his own over the past several months, ranking third in the American League in strikeouts with 221 behind only Robbie Ray and Gerritt Cole, respectively. While the 25-year-old’s ERA is a touch high as is his walk rate, his FIP is a half run lower which is likely due to his league-leading 12.3 K/9 rate; Cease’s 1.24 WHIP is also perfectly acceptable given those numbers.

The right-hander has faced the Tigers three times this season, mostly dominating the Olde English D in those appearances. On April 29, the former sixth-round pick tossed seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine, and then nearly replicated that performance on June 6 spinning another seven innings of shut-out ball, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out 10. The last time Cease saw the Tigers on July 12, the good guys finally pierced his armor knocking in a pair of runs on four hits and a walk — including a dinger — over five innings, though they still struck out seven times. Expect some heavy airflow at home plate this afternoon in the Windy City.

Key Matchup: Bless You Boys readers vs. the offseason

Thank you to all who have followed along this summer! There were peaks and valleys, and at times emotions ran high, but we made it through another season together. Hopefully next year we will continue these previews into the postseason, but for now, we must bid you adieu. Be sure to check back for all of our offseason coverage, including our prospect rankings which are coming very soon as well as our post mortem reports. Go Tigers!