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Game 15 Preview: Tigers look to take weekend series from Rockies

Detroit and Colorado split a doubleheader on Saturday while Miguel Cabrera picked up hit No. 3,000.

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Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

What a day it was for the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, as Miguel Cabrera finally reached the 3,000 hit milestone, Beau Briske made his major league debut and did not look too shabby, plus the good guys split the doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies on their home field. It was a beautiful day for baseball and a tremendously historic day in the D.

Now that all of that is behind them, the Tigers look to finish the job on Sunday with a victory to clinch the series win. It will not be easy, as the Rockies are fielding a formidable team this season, but the 13-0 shutout in the opening game yesterday proved that they are anything but invincible. The mountain men send a veteran hurler acquired in the offseason via free agency to the mound while the boys in blue whip out their Swiss Army man to defend their home turf. Here is how the pitching matchup looks to shape out.

Detroit Tigers (6-8) vs. Colorado Rockies (9-5)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m. Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Purple Row
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (0-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 0.87 ERA)

Game 15 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Alexander 6.1 22.2 7.4 2.14 0.3
Kuhl 10.1 23.1 12.8 2.80 0.3

Tyler Alexander gets his third start of the season on Sunday still looking for his first win despite some decent numbers in small sample sizes. The 27-year-old looked good in his opening outing against the Boston Red Sox on April 12, painting the plate with a mix of fastballs, cutters, and really good changeups to keep the Bad Sox off balance through the first five frames, as he is wont to do. However, after being given an early lead, Boston finally got to him with a three-run sixth, finally knocking him out of the game after 5 13 innings pitched and ultimately saddling the team with the loss.

The left-hander’s last outing on April 19 saw him throw a 42-pitch first inning, allowing a pair of unearned runs that proved to be the difference in the end, giving the fourth-year hurler his first loss of the season. While the pitch count was bloated beyond belief, the cold weather and the Yankee’s penchant for patient hitting had AJ Hinch erring on the side of caution that day. With the temperature expected to reach the high 70s once again, that should not be a problem for Alexander.

Chad Kuhl is another veteran pitcher who will get the start on Sunday as the Rockies look to snag the road series. The 29-year-old was originally drafted out of the University of Delaware in the 2013 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who developed him into a major league pitcher and got five seasons of service out of him — not counting the lost COVID year — before allowing him to leave as a free agent. Colorado made him an offer he could not refuse on March 22, and since then, he has gotten off to a good start with his second big league franchise.

The right-hander features a five-pitch arsenal headlined this season by a sinker (93.6 mph) that he has used 48% of the time so far, followed by slider (86 mph), curveball (79.7 mph), changeup (88.9 mph) and four-seam fastball (94.1 mph), which he employs respectively, per Baseball Savant. His two breaking balls get the most work out of his secondary pitches while the change and four-seamer are used sparingly in 2022. However, his proclivities have changed drastically from last season, when his repertoire was dominated by his slider, followed by the four-seamer, then the sinker, curveball and change that were used in decreasing frequency. The adjustments appear to have paid off so far this season, but his sample size is still tremendously small.

Key Matchup: Tyler Alexander vs. Rockies hitters

The Tigers could really use a solid outing from their versatile lefty on Sunday — something along the lines of his first outing would be spectacular. While Detroit was able to amazingly shut out the Rox in the early matchup, this is still a team that is third in the majors in batting average (.268), fifth in the league in on-base percentage (.333) and second in slugging (.423). Mind you, 10 of their games were played in Mile High Stadium already but this is a lineup that clearly has some beef in the batter’s box. If Alexander can stymie the visitors long enough to turn a lead over to the bullpen in the later innings, it could result in a winning weekend for the Olde English D.