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Game 13 Preview: Tigers to host Rockies for three-game weekend series

Detroit comes in with a little momentum, having beat the Yankees in the final game of that series Thursday.

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Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

It was a bit of a tough week for the Detroit Tigers after taking two of the three games played out of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals, dropping the opening pair of a midweek trio to the New York Yankees. However, the boys in the Olde English D bounced back in the final game, 3-0, to build some momentum as the next team comes to town while Miguel Cabrera still teeters on the edge of history sitting on hit 2,999.

The incoming opponent is the Colorado Rockies, who have started the season strong and currently sit tied for second place with the San Diego Padres behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the beefy National League West Division. The Rox won their first two series of the season before splitting a four-gamer with the Chicago Cubs last weekend, after which they took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies heading into this weekend’s series. They will face a Detroit squad that is still trying to find its identity after being slowed by a rash of early injuries.

The visitors will send one of their veteran hurlers to the mound looking to start the weekend off strong with a win while the home team has one of its rising stars taking the hill. Here is a look at how the battle of the bump looks to shake out on Friday night.

Detroit Tigers (5-7) vs. Colorado Rockies (8-4)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Purple Row
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tarik Skubal (0-1, 3.72 ERA) vs. RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-0, 2.16 ERA)

Game 13 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 9.2 23.8 2.4 1.30 0.5
Senzatela 8.1 5.3 2.6 2.94 0.2

Tarik Skubal now has a pair of appearances under his belt in 2022 — both starts — which were a lesson in the duality of man. He took the loss in his April 10 start against the Chicago White Sox after surrendering five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk, while striking out three over four frames. However, he did not give up a home run and his FIP sat at a sparkling 2.30 afterward. The young left-hander bounced back on April 15 against the Royals, who plated an unearned run on four hits while failing to draw a walk and striking out seven times in 5 23 innings; Skubal failed to figure in the final decision of the 2-1 win, however.

So far, the 25-year-old is excelling in three categories on Baseball Savant’s 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings, placing in the top third of the league in walk percentage (91st percentile), fastball velocity (72nd percentile) and chase rate (69th percentile), while also at a not-too-shabby strikeout percentage (55th percentile) and dead in the middle of the road in hard-hit percentage (50th percentile). His five-pitch arsenal, headlined by his 94.1 mph four-seamer, is seeing a bit more of a mix this season than last — plus Skubal has yet to show his splitter or cutter.

On the opposition’s side is Antonio Senzatela, who is now in his sixth season with the Rockies, the team that signed him as an international free agent out of Venezuela way back in 2011. The veteran right-hander had rather mediocre numbers in his first four seasons before having something of a mini-breakout in 2021, when he put up a career-high 3.4 fWAR — more than double the previous high of 1.4 fWAR in his debut campaign. Never much of a strikeout pitcher, thanks in part to allowing just 0.7 home runs per nine innings, his career-low FIP of 3.61 last season fits the bill despite an elevated 4.42 ERA and a fairly-average 1.34 WHIP.

The 27-year-old gets by this season on a traditional four-seam fastball (93.7 mph), slider (85.5 mph), curveball (78.8 mph) and changeup (84.9 mph) repertoire which he employs respectively, with the fastball seeing 59.2% of total usage according to Baseball Savant; he has apparently shelved a sinker that he used sparing last year. Senzatela is a clearly pitch-to-contact tosser, and while he tends to do well in terms of not offering free passes, his lack of strikeouts has equated to a lot of hard contact. In fact, he has been bludgeoned so far this season, as illustrated by the percentile rankings below.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Bats vs. Senzatela

If there were ever a pitcher that screamed “hit me!” it is Senzatela. Of course, his current numbers are bloated by a combination of short sample sizes as well as an outing against the Dodgers juggernaut, so the typical caveats apply, but a guy who does not offer a lot of free passes nor strikes out many is going to be leaving a lot of balls in the zone. Hopefully, the Tigers’ bats can feast upon his offerings and Miggy can finally reach his cherished milestone.