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Tigers vs. Royals Preview: Casey Mize aims to make it three in a row

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Two wins feels like a streak after the past month. Let’s see if they can build any momentum.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Well it’s never easy with this bunch. On Tuesday night, the Detroit Tigers got a fantastic start from Matthew Boyd and took a 7-0 lead into the eighth inning. Then Joe Jiménez, Jose Cisnero, and an error from Niko Goodrum threw it all away. Fortunately, Goodrum redeemed himself by stealing second base in the bottom of the ninth, setting himself up to score on Robbie Grossman’s walkoff single. Hey a win is a win, and we’ll take it, but it’d be nice to see this club put together a complete performance at some point.

Wednesday night, the Tigers send Casey Mize to the mound looking to build on a pair of quality starts. Last time Mize faced the Royals, they got to him for six runs back on April 23. That was a bit different Royals club than the one that has now lost nine in a row. Hopefully Mize can put together another strong outing, because the Royals send lefty Danny Duffy to the mound tonight, and he has all the tools required to shut down a resurgent Tigers’ offense.

Detroit Tigers (11-24) vs. Kansas City Royals (16-18)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Casey Mize (1-3, 4.41 ERA) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (4-2, 1.26 ERA)

Game 36 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Mize 32.2 5.34 16.3 9.9 1.38 0.1
Duffy 35.2 2.43 28.0 7.0 0.50 1.3

There have been plenty of positives to Mize’s start in his first full season in the major leagues. His fastball velocity has been up, he’s kept the home runs under control, and he’s been more consistent than he was in his brief 2020 look. However, the lack of strikeouts remains a concern. Other than Mize’s start in Houston, the splitter, theoretically at least his best pitch, has been woefully ineffective at generating whiffs against major league hitters. Instead, Mize has largely relied on his fastball and slider to manage contact. That’s only going to take him so far.

Mize will also have a different look behind the plate tonight. Grayson Greiner has hit the 10-day IL with a strained hamstring. Catcher Eric Haase has been called up from Toledo, while prospect Franklin Perez has been unconditionally released to open a 40-man roster spot. Perez underwent shoulder surgery yesterday, but will presumably remain in the organization as he looks to restart his career later this year. Either way, Mize will have a new backstop to throw to tonight. Rogers seems likeliest of the two.

Mize’s counterpart, Danny Duffy is a familiar name with a souped up arsenal of pitches this season. Now in his 11th year with the Royals, Duffy has shown improved velocity and command this season, and his fastball, slider, and changeup have all been very effective for him. The Tigers regulars have seen Duffy plenty of times, but with him dialed in and leveled up a bit this year, they’re going to have their hands full. Against a Tigers lineup that has been downright atrocious against left-handed pitching, combining for the lowest wRC+ in baseball, Duffy is likely to carve right through them tonight.

Key Matchup: Tigers offense vs. Duffy’s pitch count

It’s not going to be easy to put up runs in this game, but one thing the Tigers have done well recently is work pitchers through long AB’s, and they’ll need to do that tonight to have a chance. If Duffy is cruising into the seventh inning, chances are the Tigers aren’t winning this game. Mize should be able to keep the scuffling Royals offense in check, and if his teammates can get Duffy out of the game in time to get a good look at a thin Royals bullpen, they can pull out a third straight victory. Of course, thin is probably a generous description of the Tigers bullpen, but with Gregory Soto and Michael Fulmer both available, they can lock this one down if the offense can get them a lead to work with.