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Detroit at Cincinnati Preview: Tigers can take the series with a win behind Matty Boyd

The Tigers scored a wild win on Friday night and will look to continue the offensive onslaught on Saturday.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers got back on the winning track Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds with a wild 15-5 win at the Great American Ball Park to open up the three-game weekend series. The victory was the second in three tries for the good guys after suffering a four-game skid last week.

Today, the Tigers will try and repeat that performance behind an experienced pitcher who just recently returned from the injured list while the Reds send a solid veteran to the hill to try and even up the series. Here is what to expect tonight in Cincinnati.

Detroit Tigers (64-72) at Cincinnati Reds (72-64)

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 Matthew Boyd (3-7, 3.50 ER) vs. RHP Tyler Mahle (10-5, 3.64 ERA)

Game 137 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Boyd 74.2 19.3 6.6 4.05 1.4
Mahle 148.1 28.1 7.9 3.85 3.0

Matthew Boyd gets his second start after returning from the injured list, having been removed from a game due to arm discomfort that ultimately shelved him six weeks on June 14. In his last appearance, the 30-year-old showed flashes of his old home run-prone self, giving up a pair of solo jacks for his two runs surrendered in four innings pitched en route to a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays; he only struck out two along the way. It was not the most encouraging return to the mound but the left-hander probably needs a little time to get back into the groove he was earlier in the season, which was among the best stretches of his career.

Opposite of the Tigers’ veteran hurler is Tyler Mahle, who is in his fifth year with the redlegs after being taken in the seventh round of the 2013 MLB draft. The right-hander had some struggles in his earlier years but his past two seasons have been impressive. Despite the difference in innings pitched (47 23 innings in 2020 and 148 13 innings in 2021) his traditional numbers are nearly identical between last summer and this one: his ERA for 2020 and 2021, respectively, was 3.59 and 3.64; FIP 3.88 and 3.85; WHIP 1.15 and 1.18.

The 26-year-old gets by on a stingy three-pitch palette led off by a 94 mph four-seamer that gets used 53 percent of the time, along with an 87 mph slider he uses 32 percent of the time and an 86 mph splitter that sees 15 percent usage, according to Baseball Savant. Last season, he threw a curveball eight times total but has yet to feature the slow breaker in 2021. Despite the limited arsenal, Mahle gets the job done as seen below in comparison to his MLB peers.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Boyd vs. the Dinger

The home run ball has long been Boyd’s Achilles’ heel and the issue reared its ugly head once again upon his return from the injured list. As we witnessed last night, Cincinnati’s stadium can be quite the launching pad at times which doesn’t bode well for the Motor City Kitties’ starter. Additionally, pitchers like Mahle often cut through the Tigers’ batting order like a hot knife through butter, so unless we have another home run derby for both teams, Matty needs to keep the ball in the park if Detroit has a chance at scoring the series win.