The Detroit Tigers bounced back from a midweek sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox to take the opening game of their road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night thanks to the heroics of Javy Báez and the pitching staff. The former launched a grand slam in the third inning, giving starter Rony García all the padding he and the relief corps would need to pull off the 5-1 win. Heck of a way to kick off a five-game west coast swing — a trip that tends to be terribly tough for the Tigers.
The good guys have a chance to clinch the series on Saturday and have a fighting chance to do so with one of their burgeoning young starters heading to the bump. Meanwhile, the home team turns to one of its established veterans to right the ship tonight. Take a look below at who will be on the mound for this late-night affair.
Detroit Tigers (27-43) at Arizona Diamondbacks (32-40)
Time/Place: 10:10 p.m., Chase Field
SB Nation site: AZ Snake Pit
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Alex Faedo (1-4, 4.67 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 3.96 ERA)
Game 71 Pitching Matchup
Alex Faedo has been a godsend for Detroit’s decimated pitching staff, starting off his major league career with seven straight games in which he threw five innings while allowing two runs or less. However, over his last two outings, the former Florida Gator has returned to earth, getting pummeled by the Chicago White Sox for seven runs in just three innings before the other Sox tagged him for five runs (four earned) in 4 1⁄3 innings — both resulting in losses.
The 26-year-old’s stats also took a beating, jumping from a 2.92 ERA and 3.90 FIP to a 4.67 ERA and 4.32 FIP. His numbers according to Baseball Savant are not all that encouraging either, particularly his maximum exit velocity in which he is in the bottom 1% of the league, as well as most of his other advanced metrics. The right-hander’s walk percentage, however, is a bright spot sitting in the 61st percentile of the 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings.
Zach Davies was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 26th round of the 2011 MLB draft but would be traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015 before throwing a single big-league inning for his first franchise. The right-hander spent five years with the Brew Crew before getting traded to the San Diego Padres in 2019 and then to the Chicago Cubs in 2020, serving a season at both stops before signing with Arizona as a free agent back in March for his eighth major league campaign.
The 29-year-old possesses a palette of four pitches, headlined by his sinker (89.2 mph), changeup (79.3 mph), cutter (87.5 mph) and curveball (74.8 mph), according to Baseball Savant, that he employs 48.9%, 35.8%, 8.1% and 7% of the time, respectively. Statcast also picked up a pair of pitches it registered as sliders but those are likely harder-thrown curveballs. Despite profiling as a soft-tossing righty he gets a lot of mileage out of his arsenal, as seen below.
Key Matchup: Getting Faedo back on track
Detroit’s former first-round draft pick strung together a fantastic stretch of outings that would inevitably come to an end but that does not mean he has lost his mojo. Both of the Sox teams that battered him around have formidable lineups while the Diamondbacks are near the bottom of the league with a .667 OPS thanks to a .214 team batting average along with a .294 on-base percentage and .373 slugging — all among the bottom five in the majors. Saturday’s matchup is a perfect one for Faedo to rediscover his groove while the bats might be able to get something going against ‘Zona’s soft-throwing starter as well. It is certainly well within the realm of possibility that the Motor City Kitties clinch the opening series of their west coast swing.