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Detroit at Chicago Preview: Can the Tigers split the series with the Sox? We’ll find out

A big win on Saturday sets the table for a four-game split if Detroit can muster another win.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers broke out of a funk against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday afternoon behind a strong showing by Tarik Skubal and Eric Haase, who helped lift the team to a 4-3 win. On Sunday, they look to do it one more time to split the four-game set with American League Central Division leaders.

The Motor City Kitties have another tough matchup on the mound as the South Sox send one of their young studs to face off in the final series tangle. For Detroit, a reliable innings-eater takes the bump with hopes of keeping Chicago’s offense at bay long enough for his team’s bats to give him the edge. Let us take a look at that matchup.

Detroit Tigers (24-34) at Chicago White Sox (35-23)

Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., Guaranteed Rate Field
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP José Ureña (2-4, 4.14 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Cease (3-2, 3.79 ERA)

Game 59 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Ureña 54.1 15.0 9.4 3.84 0.9
Cease 54.2 28.6 11.3 3.48 1.3

José Ureña had a couple of rough games after allowing two runs or fewer in six-straight appearances, which also included a streak of four-straight quality starts stretching from mid-April into early May. His last start on May 26 against the Cleveland Indians was the first outing in 2021 in which he did not allow a single run, lasting 5 23 innings giving up three hits and three walks while striking out just two batters on 81 pitches. Was his pair of hiccups just a blip on the radar or are they omens that portend what to expect as the summer wears on? We will find out soon enough.

For the White Sox, Dylan Cease will toe the rubber to start the game opposite of Ureña. The 25-year-old has enjoyed moderate success this season though he has stumbled a bit in his more recent outings. The third-year hurler’s limiting factor on the surface has been efficiency, as he has failed to reach the fifth inning in six of his 11 starts despite racking up pitch counts from the mid-80s all the way to a season-high 111 in a six-inning effort on May 27. Interestingly, Cease’s best outing in 2021 was against the Tigers on April 29 in which he tossed seven innings for a doubleheader complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits while striking out nine.

Cease gets it done with a four-pitch arsenal led by his four-seamer (95.9 mph) that he uses a hair under half of the time, followed by a slider (85.4 mph), curveball (78.6 mph) and a changeup (78.4 mph) that he uses 30, 11 and 10 percent of the time, respectively. The results in comparison to his peers have been impressive, according to Baseball Savant’s numbers. Nothing about this chart inspires any confidence in the Tigers’ bats against the right-handed fireballer.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Tigers pitching vs. the White Sox offense

If the Tigers are going to have any chance in this one, their pitching needs to keep the scoreboard clean and that all begins with José Ureña. If he can build on his strong outing prior along with a solid bullpen effort, Detroit has a chance to split the series. But as with most Ureña starts, it will be a bit of a highwire act with very little tolerance for errors. We shall see how things pan out.