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Tigers vs. Angels Preview: Detroit tries to avoid the sweep behind Mighty Mize

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The good guys dropped the first three of the weekend series and look to salvage a lonely win on Sunday.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night’s west coast affair between the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels went pretty much as expected, with Wily Peralta — who had not started a game since May 2017 — getting roughed up a bit while the offense once again fell short in an 8-3 loss. After sweeping the Kansas City Royals during a three-game weekday series, the Tigers are in danger of getting swept out of Anaheim on Sunday.

Fortunately, Detroit has an actual starting pitcher on the mound for this one — one who has been rounding into shape over the course of the season. Meanwhile, L.A. sends a struggling veteran to the hill who has disappointed so far in his second year with the Angels. Here is a look at how Sunday’s matchup stacks up.

Detroit Tigers (29-42) at Los Angeles Angels (36-35)

Time/Place: 4:07 p.m. EDT, Angel Stadium of Anaheim

SB Nation Site: Halos Heaven

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Casey Mize (4-4, 3.49 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (1-7, 6.98 ERA)

Game 72 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 77.1 19.9 7.4 4.65 0.7
Bundy 59.1 22.4 6.6 5.34 0.0

Casey Mize needs no introduction to Tigers fans. After a rough debut in 2020, the 24-year-old has started to settle in during his sophomore campaign with Detroit, whittling 3.5 runs off his ERA and 0.48 points off his WHIP to give him some respectable traditional numbers. His April stats were rather ugly — mostly due to the three-straight losses he suffered at the end of the month in which he got hit hard — putting up a 5.08 ERA in 26 23 innings pitched, striking out 20 while walking 10 and allowing five home runs.

Mize turned the corner in May, throwing 31 innings for a sparkling 1.74 ERA, striking out 27 while walking 10 and giving up two home runs; hitters batted .162 BA/.252 OBP/.238 SLG over that stretch. Since the start of June, the young right-hander has regressed a bit, putting up a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings, striking out 12 while walking just two but allowing a whopping four home runs. He has given up exactly three earned runs in all three of his appearances this month so far. Sunday’s game will be the first time the top pick in the 2018 MLB draft faces the Angels.

Opposite of Mize stands Dylan Bundy, who was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles following the 2019 season. After a solid showing in his first year in Anaheim in which he finished ninth in the Cy Young vote, the 28-year-old has struggled in 2021 due in part to a bad case of homeritis. The right-hander’s ERA has more than doubled while his WHIP saw an increase of 0.34 points in addition to giving up almost three times as many dingers; he has already walked as many batters as last year in 6 13 fewer innings.

Bundy gets by with a five-pitch arsenal spearheaded by his four-seam fastball (91.3 mph) that he uses 36.1 percent of the time, slider (80.9 mph) that is used 20.7 percent, changeup (83.8 mph) at 16.3 percent, curveball (74.5 mph) at 15.2 percent and sinker (91.4 mph) at 11.7 percent. His pitching proclivities are not terribly different between 2020 and 2021, though he does appear to be using his slider more and his changeup less than last season along with a slight bump in the usage of his curve and sinker.

The last time the Tigers faced Bundy was May 28, 2019, when he was still in Baltimore. He took the loss after tossing seven innings of three-run ball, allowing seven hits while striking out eight and walking none, though he did surrender a home run. The win that day for Detroit came courtesy of a shut-down effort by Matthew Boyd and the bullpen; hopefully, the boys in the Olde English D can find some similar magic today to avoid the sweep.

Key Matchup: Tigers offense vs. Dylan Bundy

With Mize on the mound, Detroit has a good chance of keeping Los Angeles’ offense at bay which means a little bit of run support could go a long way. While the Tigers are seventh-worse in the majors when it comes to batting average — tied with the Cleveland Indians at .229 — and in a three-way tie for second-worse in on-base percentage (.298), big league hitters are putting up a slash line of .275/.331/.528 against Bundy this season. If there is any pitcher the bats can get it goin’ against, it is the Angels’ struggling starter.