Well Tigers fans, the end of the 2022 campaign is nigh, and while it was anything but an exciting summer for the Olde English D, bad baseball is certainly better than no baseball at all. But as the pop culture reference goes, “Winter is coming,” and the darkness of the cold months is ready to smother another season’s schedule.
Before the Motor City Kitties pack it in, they still have a four-game set remaining against the Seattle Mariners up in the Pacific Northwest — a series that was pushed to the end of the season due to the late start resulting from the work stoppage. Sandwiched in the middle is a doubleheader on Tuesday that helps to stuff in this quartet of games over the final three days.
The home team clinched a playoff spot this weekend and the visitors have made a valiant run over the past couple of weeks to avoid the embarrassment of a 100-loss campaign. While these two teams are clearly heading in opposite directions, both have been playing good baseball of late which should make for a fun matchup. Take a look at which pitching matchups are set as we look off into the sunset of the season.
Detroit Tigers (65-93) at Seattle Mariners (87-71)
Game 159 Pitching Matchup
George Kirby has had a spectacular rookie season for the M’s this season entering the game tied for 33rd in fWAR among major league pitchers. The 24-year-old was drafted by Seattle in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft out of Elon and quickly moved up the minors to his big league debut.
The young right-hander faced the Tigers once before this season back on August 30, when he tossed five frames of shutout ball on two hits and a walk while striking out five, earning the win in the process. That was one of his four scoreless outings this summer, with all reaching a minimum of five innings pitched.
Game 160 Pitching Matchup
It is kind of amazing that Marco Gonzalez has thrown as much as he has for a playoff-bound team, considering his negative fWAR and awful K:BB ratio. Nonetheless, the eighth-year veteran has reliably taken the mound this season for the Mariners and eaten some innings, throwing less than five frames in just four of his 31 starts — mostly confined to the opening month of the season.
The 30-year-old hurler faced the Tigers back on August 31, throwing six innings of three-run ball on seven hits and a walk while striking out just one en route to a win. Gonzalez has been pretty shaky since then, however, with five starts totaling 29 1⁄3 innings in which he put up a 4.91 ERA and 6.29 FIP as he took three losses during that stretch. His team did manage to win the other two, but only by one-run margins in high-scoring affairs.
Game 161 Pitching Matchup
Game 3: TBD vs. RHP Chris Flexen (8-9, 3.64 ERA)
Chris Flexen is wrapping up his fifth season in the big leagues and second in Seattle — both of which he has put up some solid stats as he continues to earn his veteran status. Originally a 14th-round selection out of high school by the New York Mets back in 2012, the 28-year-old was not quite as effective and durable as he was in 2021 but still extremely serviceable, particularly in the closer role that he has landed as the season wanes.
Like the other two pitchers previewed before him, the right-hander has also faced Detroit once this summer back on August 30 when he earned his first save of the season by throwing four innings of three-run ball allowing five hits (no walks) while striking out three. Flexen has since earned another save as well as a win in relief but has not started a game since August 6.
Game 162 Pitching Matchup
Game 4: LHP Tyler Alexander (4-11, 4.72 ERA) vs. TBD
The Mariners’ pitcher for the final game of the regular season has not yet been determined at the time of publication.
Series Outlook: It’s all about pride at this point
Having avoided the ignominy of a 100-loss season, the Tigers are playing for themselves now — how the players finish things off will be part of the evaluation process the new front office will be engaging in. Expect a split in this one for a 67-95 final record in 2022.
Have a great winter, Tigers fans!