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Game 44 Preview: A little bit of déjà vu

The Tigers and Guardians run it back with the same pitching matchup, this time in Detroit.

MLB: MAY 20 Tigers at Guardians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mea culpa. Despite my best efforts to completely decimate the Detroit Tigers rotation, Tarik Skubal survived my jinx and is set to make his next scheduled start after getting drilled by a line drive, just with an extra day of rest in between. A week later, Skubal will get his second straight shot against the Cleveland Guardians and will even be paired up with the same opposing starter.

Skubal was great once again before having to leave after getting hurt, throwing five shutout frames with just four hits and five strikeouts. He has now gone three starts in a row without giving up a run, and his fastball continues to power his solid CSW rate (29.3 percent) and batted ball numbers.

The biggest change in repertoire has been an increased slider usage, jumping from 15.4 percent in 2020 to 22.7 percent in 2021 to 28.9 percent in 2022. Opponents are hitting just .200 against the 89-mph offering and are unable to sit on the fastball. I will avoid saying any more about his health or trajectory, but it feels good to have a rapidly rising star.

Cleveland Guardians (18-21) vs. Detroit Tigers (15-28)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Aaron Civale (2-3, 7.84 ERA) vs. LHP Tarik Skubal (3-2, 2.22 ERA)

Game 100 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Alexander 33.1 12.9 5.7 4.32 0.2
Kikuchi 65.0 25.1 13.9 5.81 -0.5

I was not too complimentary of Aaron Civale last week, as he entered the game with a 9.85 ERA and 5.52 FIP. One outing cannot fix figures those bad, but they are down to 7.84 and 4.96, respectively, coming into this one. The slight cure was the Tigers' offense, of course, and Detroit obliged with 6 13 scoreless innings while managing just four baserunners. It still has been a rough year for the righthander, but he has a chance to enter June on the upswing.

Civale is not a big strikeout pitcher — he fanned just three Tigers last week — but he did not need a ton of whiffs to keep batters off balance. As long as he can keep the ball in the ballpark, which has more often than not been the case, his makeup is enough to be a fairly effective starter. Facing the same lineup in back-to-back starts is never an easy feat, but this offense has not exactly been dominant as of late.

Key matchup: Tigers vs. consecutive wins

Aside from the sweep of the pathetic Orioles (yes I know, pot, kettle, etc.), the Tigers have not logged consecutive wins since April. Thanks to Jeimer Candelario’s extra-inning blast on Wednesday, Detroit has a chance to do just that against two division foes. The Guardians are respectable enough to consider that a good accomplishment, but not so intimidating that the Tigers could not muster some success at home on Thursday in the series opener.