The big bad Blue Jays come to Detroit this weekend for a three-game series against the Tigers. The Tigers find themselves playing much better baseball than they did the first two months of the season, but the Blue Jays will provide one of the toughest challenges yet. A favorite to win the American League East, Toronto features a lineup with multiple young stars as well as a good rotation.
The Tigers are 6-4 over their last 10 games but were swept last weekend by the AL East-leading Yankees. The Blue Jays are 7-3 in their last 10 and find themselves in third place in what is arguably the toughest division in baseball. While still comfortably in a playoff spot, the Jays really haven’t hit their stride yet. Many of the bats that were supposed to be depended on to lead them to the top of the mountain have underperformed so far in 2022. Despite this, they still find themselves 10 games above .500. As we get into the summer months, it’s not a stretch to expect the big boppers for the Blue Jays to heat up.
George Springer has been dynamite for Toronto this season, but there’s a case to be made for nearly every other hitter in their lineup that they need to pick it up. Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have been good, but aren’t producing at the high levels they were at last season. Newcomer Matt Chapman has been a disappointment as well, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez need to produce more. It will be the job of the battered rotation of the Tigers to hold them down the next three games.
Detroit Tigers (23-33) at Toronto Blue Jays (33-23)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Blue Bird Banter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Elvin Rodriguez (0-1, 10.13 ERA) vs. RHP José Berríos (4-2, 5.24 ERA)
Game 56 Pitching Matchup
José Berríos is capable of performing much better than he has for the Blue Jays this year. Coming over Toronto at the deadline last year after spending his first five and a half seasons with the Minnesota Twins, the Tigers are very familiar with Mr. Berríos. He was very good last year with a 3.52 ERA across 192 innings and a career-high 26.1% strikeout rate. This season, his ERA is above five and his strikeout rate has declined to 19.8%, the lowest mark of his career since his rookie season in 2016. It’s no secret that the offense of the Tigers isn’t setting the world on fire, but Berríos has a 5.28 ERA against the team across his career. Obviously, the roster has changed quite a bit since they were first introduced to him in 2016, but god-willing, this offense can jump on a struggling Berríos and scratch a few runs across the board.
The Tigers are winning more games than they are losing lately, and I for one think that is something they should continue to do as the years go on. The offense is still frustratingly bad, though, hitting .206/.237/.296 as a team in June. They’ve only scored more than five runs in a game once in their last 27 outings and actually reached five runs in only three of those games. It would be a great night for (insert literally every hitting on the team outside of Miguel Cabrera or — gasp — Harold Castro here) to wake up and start hitting the darn ball.
Key Matchup: Elvin Rodriguez vs. the home run ball
Last Friday in his third major league start, Elvin Rodriguez got knocked around for four home runs against the Bronx Bombers. Making his first appearance since that incident, Rodriguez faces another test in the offense of the Blue Jays. I’ve mentioned that they have not performed up to lofty expectations on offense, but that only makes them a sleeping giant given the names they will roll out Friday night. Rodriguez has been okay when keeping the ball in the ballpark, and he’s going to have to do just that if he wants to give his team a chance. Presumably, the pitch tipping issue he had in New York has been resolved.