It has been a rough week for the Detroit Tigers, who are coming out of a weekend series in which they dropped the final two of a three-game set to the Colorado Rockies at home before embarking on a road trip to the Twin Cities where they were swept in three. Now sporting a five-game losing streak, the Olde English D heads out west to take on the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers for another three games on the road to wrap up the month of April and welcome in May.
On Friday night — one of those super-late ones that those of us on the east coast have grown to loathe — the Tigers and Dodgers will tangle in the confines of Chavez Ravine in what will be a battle of two Tylers with similar names but different results so far this season. Here is how the matchup looks to shake out on the bump in the series-opening game.
Detroit Tigers (6-12) at Los Angeles Dodgers (12-6)
Time/Place: 10:10 p.m. Dodger Stadium
SB Nation Site: True Blue L.A.
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.tv, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (0-2, 7.20 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Anderson (1-0, 2.84 ERA)
Game 19 Pitching Matchup
Tyler Alexander has proven his value to the Tigers over the past few seasons as a jack-of-all-trades kind of pitcher, filling in the gaps — and there have been many of them — while showing that he can be a quite serviceable option on Detroit’s staff. Something of a Swiss Army man, when the injury bug has bitten the former second-round pick out of TCU has responded with his version of first aid. Unfortunately, the bug has bitten big-time to start the 2022 campaign (plus some visa issues) but this time around, the 27-year-old has struggled a bit after five brilliant innings to start the season, leading to team losses in all three of his starts.
In his opening appearance, the left-hander went 5 1⁄3 innings against the Boston Red Sox, holding them scoreless for the first five frames before getting knocked out early in the sixth after getting tagged for three earned runs. Alexander’s next start was a dud, throwing 42 pitches just to get through the first inning against the New York Yankees before getting the hook (due in part to the cold weather) after surrendering a pair of unearned runs, saddling him with his first loss. Then in his last game, he made it through 3 2⁄3 innings against the Rockies while giving up five earned runs along the way to earn his second loss of the season. Things are not going to get much easier for the fourth-year veteran on Friday night either.
Tyler Anderson will take the mound for the Dodgers riding a scorching start to his seventh major league campaign over three appearances, including a start in his last outing. On the surface, the 32-year-old seems to be used similarly to the Tigers’ Tyler in that he is more of a swingman this season, throwing four innings in all of his outings (plus an extra 2⁄3 during his start) in contrast to the last three years in which he was used exclusively as a starter. His efforts have resulted in some sparkling numbers, albeit in small sample sizes, including an 0.87 WHIP and a 135 ERA+.
The lefty gets by with a five-pitch arsenal that is headlined by his four-seam fastball (90.2 mph) that he uses a hair over a third of the time, followed by a cutter (85.2 mph) that he uses nearly as much, as well as a changeup (79.4 mph), sinker (88.8 mph) and a rarely-used curveball (74.4 mph), according to Baseball Savant. Anderson’s proclivities in 2022 align well with his approach last season, though he has leaned on the cutter a bit harder thus far. The results have been pretty encouraging for the veteran hurler in comparison to his peers, according to the 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings below.
Key Matchup: Tyler vs. Tyler
The Dodgers are going to score runs — that certainly seems like a given — as the blue boys are 11th in the majors in batting average (.244), fourth in on-base percentage (.331), first in slugging (.428) and first in OPS (.761). So the key for the Tigers’ Tyler is to keep the damage to a minimum until the bullpen can take over and seal the deal. On the other hand, Detroit does not stand a chance if they cannot put some big numbers on the board, so the bats will need to break out of their funk and find a way to pester what has too often been the bane of the Bengals: a soft-throwing lefty.