The Detroit Tigers’ first pair of games against the Minnesota Twins this weekend have not gone exactly as planned as the boys in the Olde English D dropped the first half of a four games series with a 5-3 loss on Thursday followed by a 4-2 defeat on Friday. Saturday is a new day and with just two games left before the All-Star break, the good guys need to build some positive momentum heading into the midsummer classic.
Still struggling with the injury bug, the Tigers turn to a late-bloomer who has filled in admirably wherever manager A.J. Hinch has needed him; the Twins send one of their young guns to the mound looking to add to his solid rookie campaign in 2021. Here is a look at the matchup between the starting hurlers.
Detroit Tigers (40-49) at Minnesota Twins (37-50)
Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Kyle Funkhouser (3-0, 2.59 ERA) vs. RHP Bailey Ober (1-1, 4.85 ERA)
Game 90 Pitching Matchup
Kyle Funkhouser has served as a reliever this season for the most part, save for one start on June 13 against the Chicago White Sox in which he was essentially used as an “opener”. He threw 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one that day. He has also finished a pair of games — both losing efforts — tossing three total innings while allowing a pair of hits and striking out two. The 27-year-old has not thrown more than 35 pitches in an outing — which occurred in his first appearance of the year — so we are likely looking at another bullpen day behind the Funk.
For the Twinkies, Bailey Ober makes his eighth major league start on Saturday after a rollercoaster debut season so far. It has pretty much been feast-or-famine for the 25-year-old, either getting shelled by the opposition or shutting them down with not a whole lot of middle ground. His best outing of the year was his most recent — on July 5 against the ChiSox he was good for five innings of shutout ball allowing two hits and three walks while striking out seven over 93 pitches, which was the most he has thrown this season by a decent margin.
Key Matchup: Tigers offense vs. Ober early
In the three games the Minnesota right-hander got pummeled, he allowed at least four runs and lasted no more than 4 1⁄3 frames while striking out just six batters over 11 2⁄3 total innings. His worst start of the season came right before his most recent one mentioned above, in which he was tagged for five runs on four hits, two walks and three home runs while striking out three in 3 1⁄3 innings. The Twins rookie is the kind of pitcher the Tigers offense can sink its teeth into with a little bit of patience.