Friday night’s affair between the Detroit Tigers and the Houston Astros was rained out, which means the teams’ fans get a two-for-one on Saturday as the two squads are now scheduled for an afternoon doubleheader. The ‘Stros took the first of the four-game series on Thursday with authority, pounding José Ureña and the Olde English D in a 12-3 win. Now, only one team will finish the day with the series lead — with luck, it will be the Tigers.
However, Detroit has a bit of an uphill battle as Houston sends two hurlers to the bump who have performed well so far in 2021, while the good guys have their former number one pick slotted as well as a pitcher who really has no business as a starter. Here is a look at what is on tap today.
Detroit Tigers (32-43) vs. Houston Astros (47-28)
Game 76 Pitching Matchup
Game one of the doubleheader presents a matchup that could easily turn into a pitcher’s duel, as Casey Mize takes the hill for the Tigers. In my previous preview, I mentioned how the sophomore right-hander has seen some significant growth this season after a rough start, putting up a sparkling performance over the month of May before settling into a groove in June. Over his last four starts — all June appearances — the 24-year-old has given up exactly three runs each, averaging a hair above six innings per outing. His only start against Houston this year was his best, tossing seven innings of shutout ball allowing four hits and two walks while striking out five on 89 pitches way back on April 12. Detroit could really use another one of those efforts today against the Astros.
Frambler Valdez will toe the rubber for Houston in search of his fifth win of the season against zero losses. The 27-year-old is having a fantastic fourth year in the bigs, allowing just a single earned run in four of his five starts. However, he stumbled slightly in his last outing, giving up a pair of earned runs (three runs total) over seven innings, allowing six hits, two walks and a dinger while striking out five over 108 pitches for a win. The last time Valdez pitched against the Tigers was back on May 14, 2019, when he pitched the final inning of relief in an 11-4 victory for the ‘Stros.
Game 77 Pitching Matchup
On the hill for Detroit in the second game is Wily Peralta, whose first start since 2017 did not go very well, though he did end up holding his own after a rough third inning that ultimately put the game out of reach. Still, the 32-year-old managed to eat some much-needed innings for a depleted starting rotation, effectively serving his purpose against a tough foe. Saturday will be an even bigger challenge for the veteran right-hander in his third major league appearance of 2021 as he faces some tough opposition from Houston.
The Astros send Lance McCullers Jr., the son of former major leaguer Lance McCullers, to the mound looking to continue an impressive season so far. Aside from one blip back in April, the 27-year-old has not allowed more than three runs a game while striking out more than one batter per inning. The good news for the Tigers is that his one bad game came against them, a 3 2⁄3 inning effort in which he gave up six runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three and hitting a pair of batters over 87 pitches for his only loss of the 2021 campaign thus far. A repeat performance by the Motor City Kitties would really tie the twin-bill day together quite nicely.