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Game 10 Preview: Tigers look to rise back up against Royals on Easter Sunday

Detroit was unable to clinch the series on Saturday after losing another young arm to injury but can still take in on Sunday.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox - Game Two Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers were unable to keep up their winning ways on Saturday afternoon, taking a 3-1 loss against the Kansas City Royals on the road as the injury bug continues to rear its ugly head. After losing Casey Mize to injury on Friday, the Motor City Kitties got another scare when Matt Manning was removed from the game after just two innings with right shoulder discomfort, further decimating an already mylar-thin pitching staff.

Nonetheless, the game goes on and the Tigers still have a chance to take the four-game series with a win. Detroit will send its Swiss Army man to the mound for his second start of the season while KC sends a young gun of their own out to do battle on Sunday. Here is how things shake out for this Easter matchup.

Detroit Tigers (4-5) at Kansas City Royals (3-5)

Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., Kauffman Stadium
SB Nation Blog: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (0-0, 5.06 ERA) vs. Carlos Hernández (0-0, 8.31 ERA)

Game 10 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Alexander 5.1 20.0 0.0 1.57 0.2
Hernández 4.1 5.0 10.0 12.02 -0.1

Tyler Alexander has been one of the more pleasant surprises from the Tigers’ development system in recent years, providing pitching in whatever situation the team has needed him. The former second-round pick of the 2015 MLB draft out of Texas Christian University was a bit of an afterthought on the farm before getting his first cup of coffee in 2019, in which he put up serviceable numbers in 13 appearances (8 starts) over 53 23 innings pitched.

The right-hander took the next step during the COVID campaign of 2020 and showed even further improvement in 2021, when he put up a 3.81 ERA, 4.39 FIP and 1.26 WHIP in 106 13 innings that spanned over 41 appearances, starting 15 and finishing seven. The 27-year-old had a bit of a bumpy start in 2022, surrendering three earned runs on five hits (no walks or home runs) while striking out four over 5 13 frames, giving him a bloated 5.06 ERA coming into Sunday’s game but a sparkling 1.57 FIP and 0.94 WHIP as well.

Alexander uses a five-pitch arsenal that was dominated by his cutter (86.2 mph) in 2021, which he leaned on 35.4% of the time, followed by his sinker (90.2 mph), changeup (83.7 mph), four-seam fastball (90.5 mph) and slider (82.2 mph) that were utilized 20.6%, 18.4%, 15.1% and 10.5%, respectively, according to Baseball Savant. In his first game this season, however, the sinker was his primary pitch seeing use in nearly half of his pitches, while his change and cutter were the predominant secondary pitches, and the last two saw sparse usage.

Carlos Hernández takes the bump for the Royals in his third season in the bigs for the blue boys after a solid campaign last year in which he posted a 3.68 ERA, 4.08 FIP and 1.28 WHIP over 24 games (11 starts) that spanned across 85 23 innings. Originally signed as an international free agent by Kansas City in 2016 out of Venezuela, the 25-year-old has struggled a bit out of the gates this season in his opening start, getting pummeled to the tune of four earned runs on six hits, a pair of walks and a home run, while striking out just one over just 4 13 innings against Cleveland on April 11.

The hard-throwing right-hander painted the strike zone with a palette consisting of five pitches in 2021, according to Baseball Savant: four-seam fastball (97.1 mph), curveball (81.1 mph), slider (85.3 mph), changeup (86.5 mph) and sinker (97.4 mph), which he employs respectively. The four-seamer was used nearly 50% of the time, while the curve and slider were mixed in at 18.5% and 16.4%, respectively, while the change and sinker both saw usage south of 10%. So far in 2022, Hernández has followed the same general pattern, though he bumped his slider up a bit in his opening appearance.

Key Matchup: Once again, the Tigers bats vs pitching

Despite the attrition on the mound currently experienced by Detroit, the good guys have done a decent job keeping their opponent off the scoreboard. The games in this series have been decided by 4-2, 2-1 and 3-1 final scores, with the Tigers scoring seven and the Royals scoring six so far this weekend. While Hernández appears to be a tough matchup for this squad, if the trend continues, we just need to see a few more players wearing the Olde English D crossing the plate to seal the Easter victory.

UPDATE

Sorry folks, the game has been postponed. Moose out front should’ve told ya.