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Tigers vs. Royals Preview: Spencer Turnbull looks for the sweep

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The Tigers could be tied for fourth place in the division tomorrow night.

Seattle Mariners v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With the Tigers now winners of three straight games, Spencer Turnbull will look to lead them to a series sweep over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday afternoon. The Royals will counter with a good young pitching prospect in Daniel Lynch. It should be a fun matchup.

The reason things are suddenly more fun, is that the Tigers offense has finally woken up after a brutal final three weeks of April. Since getting blanked by the Yankees back on May 2, the Tigers have scored 44 runs in seven games. When you’re averaging over six runs per game, you should be winning. Against a pitcher making his second major league start, and who was rocked in the first one, the opportunity for another good performance from the lineup in certainly in play on Thursday.

However, the Royals themselves have now lost 10 games in a row. After a hot start, there was 2014 talk for a moment there, imagining a surprise run to the postseason. Two weeks later, injuries, sloppy play, and poor pitching have combined to bring them back to Earth. That can’t be a happy clubhouse right now—read Royals Review’s game recap and comments for a taste of the same total despair the Tigers felt as recently as a week ago—so the Tigers will have their work cut out for them to polish off a three game sweep.

Detroit Tigers (12-24) vs. Kansas City Royals (16-19)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m. ET, Comerica Park

SB Nation Site: Royals Review

Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-2, 4.74 ERA) vs. LHP Daniel Lynch (0-1, 18.56 ERA)

Game 37 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Turnbull 19.0 3.47 17.6 5.9 0.47 0.5
Lynch 5.1 7.23 9.7 16.1 1.69 -0.1

Through four starts, after missing much of April due to a late start in spring camp, Spencer Turnbull is doing Spencer Turnbull things. He’s inefficient, the command comes and goes, but he just isn’t ever really hit hard. It’s uncanny. Seam-shifted wake, folks. Scary stuff.

Obviously Turnbull is still ramping up to speed, and so far who could argue with the results? The numbers look good, and we can expect him to stretch out and find his groove a little more often now that he has a handful of starts under his belt. Still, his last two outings have been shaky. He allowed four runs in five innings to the Yankees back on May 1, and only lasted three innings against the Red Sox last time out. Against a scuffling Royals offense at home, he should be able to get on track.

As for Lynch, he’s another nice pitching prospect the Royals nabbed with the 34th overall pick in the first comp round back in the 2018 amateur draft. Standing six-foot, six inches, Lynch sits in the mid-90’s with a true power fastball, a solid pair of breaking balls, and mediocre changeup. Despite the power stuff, his heater doesn’t have great life, and Lynch’s slider has been really inconsistent for him so far. Even in the minor leagues, he didn’t have the strikeout rates of a top pitching prospect, but he’s typically been harder to square up. So far, an average exit velocity mark of 94 mph off the bat says he’s getting clapped out there.

Lynch tends to lose the ball arm side, into left-handed hitters, and he likes to use the fastball up in the zone. The problem for him is that it just isn’t that lively up there. The Tigers have struggled against good fourseamers up but Lynch is more hittable and his slider has been flat and consistently down beneath the zone. There just isn’t as much deception as the Royals would like.

The White Sox blew him out of the water with eight runs in the first inning in Lynch’s last start. If the Tigers continue their patient ways of late, Lynch is liable to hang some cookies. He generally throws a good ratio of strikes without making many big mistakes, but he’s not going to miss a ton of bats either.

Key Matchup: Tigers vs. the Royals karma

It’s a fraught thing dealing with a team mired in such a long losing streak. When it gets to 10 games, the whole thing starts to seem metaphysical, as though forces beyond the Royals and their opponents was getting involved. Spencer Turnbull pitches well in Comerica Park, and he should have a good day. The Tigers have struggled with lefties this year, but Daniel Lynch has been quite shaky so far. There’s every reason to think the Tigers will win this one, but I feel like weird things are going to happen in this one and fear to offer any further prediction other than guessing that Eric Haase will hit a home run in this game.