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Tigers at Blue Jays Preview: Detroit seeks a rubber match win vs. Jays

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A pair of pitcher’s duels split the series coming into Sunday’s matchup.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The weekend series between the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays has unexpectedly produced a pair of pitcher’s duels thus far, with the former taking Friday night’s affair in extra innings while the latter struck back on Saturday with a shutout win of their own. Today, the two will tangle once more to decide who takes the three-game set; however, it would come as a significant surprise if this matchup results in a third showdown on the mound.

On Sunday, the Motor City Kitties reach down deep into their bag of arms for their starter while the Jays send a reclamation project to the bump as well. There is a stark difference between the two hurlers, but that has also been the case for the last two games. So without further ado, here is a look at today’s pitching matchup.

Detroit Tigers (59-66) at Toronto Blue Jays (64-57)

Time/Place: 1:07 p.m., Rogers Centre
SB Nation site: Bluebird Banter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Drew Hutchison (0-1, 10.80 ERA) vs. LHP Steven Matz (10-7, 4.08 ERA)

Game 126 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Hutchison 1.2 7.7 23.1 15.17 -0.1
Matz 106.0 23.3 6.9 3.78 1.7

On his 31st birthday, Drew Hutchinson will take the mound for the Tigers for his second start this season. The veteran journeyman looked awful in his first big league appearance in three years against the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 15, surrendering six runs — only two earned — on five hits, three walks and a home run while striking out just one in 1 23 innings pitched. It took him 52 pitches to labor through 13 batters en route to an 11-0 loss for the good guys that day. Against one of his former teams on Sunday, the right-hander has plenty of room for improvement.

Opposite of Detroit’s tricenarian is the Jays’ Steven Matz, who is in his first year north of the border after spending the first six years of his career with the New York Mets. He put up ugly numbers in limited action last season (9.68 ERA in 30 13 innings) but has rebounded nicely in the American League to a much more respectable traditional stat line. In fact, his numbers are fairly similar to his best full season of action in 2018 though his WHIP has inflated a bit from 1.25 to 1.39. Still, the veteran hurler appears to be rejuvenated with his new club.

The 30-year-old gets by with a four-pitch arsenal led off by a 95 mph sinker he uses a smidgen over half the time, followed by an 85 mph changeup that sees 23 percent usage, a 78 mph curveball at 16 percent and an 89 mph slider at 11 percent usage, according to Baseball Savant. His pitch proclivity has remained mostly constant over the years, though he began favoring his change over his curve in 2018 — the same year he ditched the four-seamer that he had used only a fraction of the time anyways. Here is how he stacks up against his MLB peers in 2021.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Drew Hutchison vs. the Toronto bats

Look, we all know who Hutchison is — a perennial AAAA player — and truthfully, there is nothing wrong with that. The Tigers brought him up to eat up some innings and that is what he really needs to do on Sunday against the bluebirds to give his team a shot at the victory. If Hutch can burn a few frames while minimizing the damage long enough to get to the bullpen, Detroit might have a chance to steal the rubber match win. That’s a huge “if” though.