Riley Greene is here, but no, he isn’t the cure-all for the Tigers’ ills. The whole lineup has swung the bat better in his three games with the club, even out-hitting the Red Sox in Monday’s loss, but this is still a team struggling to get the offense rolling consistently as the cracks in an incredibly resilient pitching staff thus far start to show. They should have a good chance to keep it going with veteran lefty Rich Hill on the mound.
Meanwhile, the Tigers will show the Red Sox another rookie starter exceeding expectations in right-hander Beau Brieske on Tuesday night. The youngster has demonstrated plenty of grit and composure despite being thrown into the deep end abruptly this season. He’s still working on plenty of things, but we’ve seen progress in his slider the last two times out, and he’s also back to spinning a curveball in there now and again to keep hitters honest. He should give the Tigers a decent chance to take this one.
As we enter the summer months — Happy Summer Solstice everyone — the Tigers’ offense is finally nearing fully operational status. Jeimer Candelario returned on Monday, and with Riley Greene in the fold, this is basically the offense that general manager Al Avila assembled in the offseason now finally on the field.
Riley Greene just needs to play his game and settle in, not inspire a pack of veteran hitters who aren’t pulling their weight. We’re happy to watch Greene and Torkelson develop, but the problems with this offense remain too overwhelming to consider much else. Right now, the team looks like it will need a near-total overhaul in 2023. These veteran players need to prove otherwise. Either way, a reckoning is coming, and the Tigers should be a much more interesting team to watch the rest of the way.
At least this is what I tell myself. Cope however works best for you.
Detroit Tigers (26-41) at Boston Red Sox (37-31)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Fenway Park
SB Nation Site: Over the Monster
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Beau Brieske (1-5, 3.79 ERA) vs LHP Rich Hill (2-4, 4.42 ERA)
Game 67 Pitching Matchup
Mr. Brieske comes into this matchup in Boston on a nice little roll. Mid to late May was rough for him, and a couple of bad starts really dinged those FIP numbers in particular. However, in his last three starts, Brieske has taken on the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Texas Rangers, and dominated.
He allowed two runs in six innings, with seven strikeouts to one walk, against the Yankees on June 3. The two runs came on solo shots — a theme that continues to develop around Brieske’s performance. Still, that’s a fine outing against the most dangerous offense in baseball. He then blanked the Jays over 5 2⁄3 innings on June 11, and tossed seven shutout innings with just three hits allowed against the Rangers last Thursday.
The key to the improvements he’s made center around better fastball command, and an improved slider. Brieske is still missing down the middle a little too often, but he’s worked the edges much more effectively the last three times out, largely giving hitters fits. The Red Sox will be a tough test again, but if Brieske can aggressively throw strikes and mix in the slider without one for a homer in the first inning, he should do alright.
As for Rich Hill, the ageless lefty continues to use his riding four-seamer and deadly, sweeping curve to good effect, despite not having much of a third pitch to offer. He isn’t racking up the strikeouts the way he did during his heyday, but he continues to limit free passes and keep the ball in the park. That’s been good enough for solid, fifth starter-type work.
Hill rarely even touches 90 mph anymore, and that loss of velo has cost him the whiffs the fastball used to generate. To deal with that, he mixes in a low 80’s slider more often these days as a change of pace, but the 72 mph curve is still the bread and butter, and he’ll throw it at least 40 percent of the time, making it his primary offering over the fastball.
Lefties often hate facing Hill because they’re just going to see a ton of that sweeping lollypop curve. However, while the slider allows Hill to throw something a little harder that can get inside against right-handers, it isn’t helping much. Right-handed hitters are knocking him around pretty well at this point in his career, and most of the Tigers’ switch hitters are better pure hitters from that side. So expect plenty of good contact. Eric Haase, Javy Báez, Spencer Torkelson, and Miguel Cabrera should have a favorable matchup overall.