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Tigers vs. Twins preview: Alex Faedo looks to make it three in a row

He’ll duel Chris Archer this afternoon with a series victory already in the bag.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After another dominant outing for Tarik Skubal and ongoing signs of life from the offense, the Tigers have taken three or four from the Twins. They can add another one and stretch their winning streak to three games this afternoon, while continuing to ding the high flying, AL Central leading, Minnesota Twins. The pitching matchup isn’t wildly tilted in the Tigers favor, but Alex Faedo appears more than a match for Chris Archer at this point in their careers, and the Tigers’ lineup is swinging it better of late.

For the second day in a row, the Tigers’ starting shortstop, Javier Báez, will have the day off as A.J. Hinch tries to shake him out of a brutal May slump. Instead, a red hot Harold Castro will handle shortstop again. Willi Castro will be in center field—an experiment I’ve been interested in for a while now, though not necessarily at the major league level—Kody Clemens in left, Daz Cameron in right, but this scrappy alignment, while looking rather grim on paper, has been holding their own.

Detroit Tigers (20-30) vs. Minnesota Twins (30-22)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m. EDT, Comerica Park

SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town

Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.tv, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Alex Faedo (1-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Archer (0-2, 4.19 ERA)

Game 51 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Pitcher IP FIP K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Faedo 27.0 4.29 14.4 7.2 1.00 0.3
Archer 34.1 5.21 18.8 10.4 1.40 -0.1

Through five starts, 26-year-old rookie Alex Faedo has been pretty impressive. The strikeout marks aren’t quite where we’d hope for sustainable success, but Faedo has shown good composure and command on the mound, and has made pitches when he needed them. His ability to command his bread and butter slider, while varying the movement as needed, has been the key equalizer for him, but he’s also shown signs of a solid changeup developing as well. Against a lineup with some good left-handed hitters, the changeup may be the key to continuing Faedo’s strong start in the major leagues.

Sitting around 92-93 mph with his fourseamer, Faedo is not blowing people away with power pitching. The heater has some life, but it has been the rookie’s ability to spot it for strikes without making mistakes over the heart of the plate that has really carried him so far in his nascent major league career. As he puts mileage on his arm post-Tommy John, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get stronger as the year progresses. For now, if he makes mistakes, the Twins can certainly capitalize with power, but Faedo hasn’t made many so far.

As for Archer, we saw him briefly just last week and he doesn’t appear to have found an answer to his issues. The fastball is diminished from his heyday in Tampa Bay, and while he retains his good slider, even his good outings tend to be short these days. Overall, Faedo has the edge now, but the two are also fairly similar pitchers at this point. So if we’re instead going by lineups, you’ve probably got to favor the Twins a bit even with Buxton banged up and struggling, and Carlos Correa on the COVID-19 list.

This will be the first time the Twins have seen Faedo, so he’s got that advantage as well. The Tigers saw Archer back on the 23rd, though they didn’t do much through Archer’s four innings of work, scoring just one run. At least they’ve gotten a recent look at him.

Key Matchup: Battle of the bullpens

So far in this series, the Tigers’ bullpen has dominated, but late runs are likely going to be tough to come by today. The Twins haven’t pitched Jhoan Duran or Tyler Duffey in several days, so expect another short outing from Archer, and for Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli to pull out the stops with the bullpen as long as this one is close into the middle innings. Ideally the Tigers will put up an early lead and a bullpen that got some rest thanks to Skubal’s dominant start on Wednesday, will be in good shape to make it hold up.