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Detroit at Cincinnati Preview: It’s Tyler Time!

The Tigers travel to Ohio to take on the Red for a three-game weekend set.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a rough week for the Detroit Tigers, having lost five of their last seven since last Friday between the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics. The Motor City Kitties now turn their attention to a National League team from nearby Ohio, the Cincinnati Reds, who host them this weekend at the Great American Ballpark for a three-game set.

Entering the Friday, the two teams sport mirror-image records with Detroit mired in third place among its American League Central peers while the Reds sit in a distant second behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. The boys in the Olde English D are mostly playing for pride as the season winds down while the redlegs are vying for playoff position — either way, both teams are looking to score a win tonight. Here is how things look heading into the matchup.

Detroit Tigers (63-72) at Cincinnati Reds (72-63)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park
SB Nation site: Red Reporter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (2-2, 4.34 ERA) vs. RHP Vladimir Gutiérrez (9-5, 4.03 ERA)

Game 136 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Alexander 74.2 19.1 5.3 4.59 0.5
Gutiérrez 96.0 18.4 8.6 4.85 0.8

Tyler Alexander’s last appearance, in which he followed José Ureña in the opener role, was his first non-start since July 11 when he came in for 23 inning to earn a hold. In that most recent outing against the Toronto Blue Jays, the 27-year-old went 2 23 innings, allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and a home run while striking out two. It was a complete 180-degree turn from his most recent start — also against the Jays — in which he threw a season-high seven frames of one-run ball as well as a 2021-best six strikeouts en route to a Tigers win.

In fact, up until that game the left-hander had been mostly solid on the mound, recording a 4.18 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over the course of 32 13 innings that spanned across seven starts. Looking at his innings pitched over that span, it appeared that he was being stretched out for a longer role until his piggyback game behind Ureña. He has been a bit home run prone surrendering five over that stretch, consistency has been something of an issue and his opponent’s slash line of .252 BA/.295 OBP/.463 SLG was absolutely mediocre. Hopefully, Alexander can rediscover the magic he had in his last start.

Opposite of him is Vladimir Gutiérrez, who has held his own thus far in his rookie campaign for the Reds. The 25-year-old from Cuba has had his ups and downs as any greenhorn hurler is expected to have in their debut season, but as the summer wore on the right-hander saw some incremental improvement. Save for his most recent start against the Miami Marlins, Gutiérrez appeared in six games from July 27 to August 22 notching a 1.86 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP, striking out 36 to earn five wins against one loss.

The Reds’ rookie packs a four-pitch arsenal headlined by a 93 mph fastball that is used 47 percent of the time, followed by an 83 mph slider (24 percent), 74 mph curveball (18 percent) and 81 mph changeup (11 percent); he has also thrown a 93 mph sinker thrice this season, according to Baseball Savant. How well does he compare to his fellow major league peers? He sits pretty much right in the middle of the road.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Offense vs. Gutiérrez

The Reds’ starter for Friday night’s affair is a young gun who can get shaken up if the offense can put some pressure on him. Against Miami in his last start, he only made it through three innings before getting yanked, allowing five runs on seven hits and a dinger while striking out just a pair. However, Gutiérrez has only had four truly bad starts that have been spaced apart pretty well, so a repeat performance is not terribly likely. Still, if Alexander can bounce back and the bats wake up, things could look good for Detroit.