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Game 59 Preview: Tigers go for the series win against the Blue Jays

Detroit’s newest ace pitcher takes the mound looking to finish off Toronto.

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Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers struck back on Saturday afternoon with a big win over the Toronto Blue Jays at home behind a spectacular effort by rookie Beau Brieske. The young hurler tossed 5 23 innings of shutout ball allowing seven hits and no walks while striking out two. Meanwhile, the offense got rolling behind Victor Reyes who went 3-for-4 in his first game back from Toledo to help his team earn the 3-1 win.

The odds of that victory seemed pretty improbable heading into the game given the starting pitcher matchup but the Motor City Kitties clawed their way to the win. They will have an easier task today as one of the best in the league this year toes the rubber for the Tigers while the Blue Jays send out a solid starter of their own. Here is a look at who is up next for the two teams.

Detroit Tigers (24-34) at Toronto Blue Jays (34-24)

Time/Place: 1:40 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Blue Bird Banter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tarik Skubal (5-2, 2.33 ERA) vs. RHP Ross Stripling (2-1, 3.65 ERA)

Game 59 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 65.2 27.7 4.0 2.10 2.4
Stripling 37.0 20.1 5.2 3.17 0.7

Tarik Skubal currently sits second in the majors in fWAR behind yesterday’s starter for the Jays, Kevin Gausman, who reached the 3 fWAR mark with his performance. The former ninth-round pick has been living up to the lofty expectations held on him coming up through the minors — and an argument can be made that he has exceeded them at this point. Still, the 25-year-old continues to work on improving himself as The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen recently noted in a quote from teammate Alex Faedo.

“In Double-A he was so dominant,” Faedo said. “And instead of being like, ‘I don’t have to change,’ he’s gotten better in so many different aspects.”

The young left-hander’s most recent game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 7 was not his best effort but it got the job done, surrendering three runs on six hits and no walks while striking out nine over seven innings — good enough for the quality start as well as the win, as the Tigers triumphed, 5-3. Interestingly, Skubal has never pitched against the Blue Jays in his 50 career appearances.

Ross Stripling takes the mound for Toronto now in his seventh season in the majors and third in the Great White North. After being picked out of the fifth round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he spent his four-plus years in L.A. where he put up consistently solid numbers until his final season out west when he got shipped to the Jays at the 2020 deadline. That season spread between two teams, as well as 2021, were his weakest but he appears to have finally found his footing.

The 32-year-old utilizes a five-pitch arsenal headlined by his four-seam fastball (91.8 mph), changeup (82.7 mph), slider (86.4 mph), curveball (76 mph) and sinker (89.8 mph), which he employs respectively at 34.7%, 25%, 22.5%, 11% and 6.7% clips, per Baseball Savant. The right-hander excels in several categories on the 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings, sitting in the 91st percentile in chase rate, 84th in walk percentage, 77th in hard-hit percentage, 68th in both xERA and xwOBA, as well as 64th in average exit velocity.

Key Matchup: Skubal vs. Jays’ bats

Stripling could cause some trouble for the Tigers but it seems likely that the good guys will get a few runs across the plate — as always, the three-run rule is in effect. But the weight truly lies on the shoulders of Detroit’s starter, who has to work through one of the more potent lineups in the majors and subdue the likes of Vlad Guerrero Jr. If there is anyone wearing the Olde English D that can do it, however, it’s Skubal. The Tigers could come away with an unlikely weekend series win if he can continue his brilliance on Sunday.