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Game 34 Preview: Tigers look to start a winning streak against the Orioles

Detroit struck first on Friday night with a solid win and can clinch the series with another victory on Saturday.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday night with a 4-2 win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles to take the weekend series opener. Eduardo Rodriguez was steady enough for the home team, blanking the O’s over 6 23 innings, allowing five hits and four walks while striking out three for his first win wearing the Olde English D. Miguel Cabrera turned back the clock with a double and a dinger to help lead the charge while rookie Spencer Torkelson also had a two-hit day.

The good guys look to replicate their results on Saturday afternoon in the D and score back-to-back wins for just the third time this season. They will have to do it behind another one of their free-agent signings taking the mound while the Orioles send one of their rising stars to the bump to do battle. Here is how those two match up.

Detroit Tigers (10-23) vs. Baltimore Orioles (14-19)

Time/Place: 4:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Camden Chat
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Michael Pineda (1-2, 3.43 ERA) vs. LHP Bruce Zimmermann (2-1, 2.67 ERA)

Game 34 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pineda 21.0 14.3 4.8 5.04 0.0
Zimmermann 30.1 20.4 6.4 2.57 1.0

Michael Pineda had a bit of trouble getting going this spring due to a visa issue that was finally resolved at the end of March. However, the delay set him back a bit and he did not make his first appearance in a Tigers uniform until his start against the New York Yankees on April 21, in which he tossed five innings of shut-out ball, allowing three hits while striking out two to earn the win. Unfortunately, the 33-year-old has not quite seen the same success since in his debut outing, putting up a 4.50 ERA with a 5.87 FIP over 16 innings, allowing 17 hits, four walks and four home runs while striking out 10; he has taken a loss in two of his three subsequent games.

The right-hander features an array of three pitches that relies heavily on his four-seam fastball (90.1 mph) at a 59.9% clip, followed by a slider (81.1 mph) and changeup (85.2 mph) that are used 23.7% and 16.4% of the time, respectively, according to Baseball Savant. The veteran had possessed a five-pitch arsenal up until 2017 but has relied on just the three offerings since returning from Tommy John surgery. Here is how his 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings look so far (hide the kids before scrolling down).

Baseball Savant

Bruce Zimmerman is now in his third year with Baltimore after being initially drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves out of the University of Mount Olive and subsequently included in the trade that sent Keven Gausman and Darren O’Day to Hotlanta. The 27-year-old got his first cup of coffee in 2020 with a short seven-inning stint in the majors before tossing 64 13 innings in 2021 to the tune of a 5.04 ERA, 5.38 FIP and 1.51 WHIP. However, it seems that Zimmermann has turned the corner this year with the sparkling numbers he has put up so far.

The left-hander features a five-pitch arsenal led by his four-seam fastball (90.3 mph), changeup (84.1 mph), slider (84.7 mph), curveball (80.8 mph) and sinker (90.1 mph), according to Baseball Savant. He pairs his four-seamer and change at 35.5% and 30.7% clips, respectively, while the successive pitches come in at 17%, 13.1% and 3.7%, respectively. Along with the addition of the sinker this season, Zimmermann has also trended toward less reliance on the four-seamer and more on the change over the past few years. Here is how it all adds up in the 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Tigers bats vs Zimmermann

It seems pretty likely that Pineda will cough up a few runs today, so the bats will need to find a way to repeat Friday night’s performance. Cabrera’s two extra-base hits lifted his OPS to a bland .706 — third on the team and No. 95 in the majors — while he also leads the team’s regular players in batting average (.276) and runs batted in (12) and is tied for second in home runs (2). Everyone loves Miggy and wants to see him succeed even in his twilight years, but if he is the center of the Tigers’ offense, this team is in big trouble. Another strong showing from Torkelson would really help out a lot and it would not hurt to see Willi Castro continuing to swing a hot bat.