On the one hand, the Tigers will likely be glad to end this peculiar eight game barnstorming tour across the country from Boston to San Francisco via Phoenix. On the other, they’ll be returning to Detroit this weekend where the home crowd can yell at them some more. Either way, it would be a happier flight if they can close out the trip with a win this afternoon, and they have a decent pitching matchup with which to accomplish this modest task.
Of course, despite being third in their division, the San Francisco Giants are just worlds better than the Tigers nowadays. 10 years ago the two met up in a very anti-climactic World Series as peers atop the league. Even five years ago, the two clubs looked to be in a similar position as each began retooling their clubs. But one org has done it just a bit better than the other in the intervening years. Too add insult to injury, the Giants have arrived at this point with Gabe Kapler at the wheel, five years after the Tigers passed on the former Dodgers player development guru for their post-Ausmus managerial opening. Let’s just say this isn’t our favorite face-to-face organizational comparison.
The Giants are no juggernaut, but they’re certainly in position to be a consistent contender in perhaps baseball’s toughest division.
Detroit Tigers (28-45) at San Francisco Giants (40-33)
Time/Place: 3:45 p.m. EDT/Oracle Park, San Francisco, CA
SB Nation Site: McCovey Chronicles
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.tv, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Rony Garcia (2-2, 4.57 ERA) vs. LHP Alex Wood (5-6, 5.05 ERA)
Game 74 Pitching Matchup
While rookies Alex Faedo and Beau Brieske have come undone over the past month, Rony Garcia has persevered. His numbers remain solid, with an excellent K-BB ratio carrying the load. The big right-hander continues to be a little too home run prone, stemming from bouts of poor command for the most part, but overall he’s giving the Tigers perfectly solid backend starter production so far.
Garcia has tuned the movement on his fourseamer to get better run, and that has helped him add more whiffs with the fastball. However, the key remains his command of his curveball-looking slider. That pitch has been a great equalizer for him. As long as he can spot it down to either side of the plate, he should be able to manage a solid Giants’ lineup. A confirmed fly ball pitcher, Oracle Park perhaps suits Garcia better than it does his opponent, left-hander Alex Wood.
Of course, Wood is just better than Garcia, and much more experienced. His strikeout to walk ratio is almost as impressive as Garcia’s, but on top of that, the southpaw isn’t giving up many home runs. His sinker-slider combination gets him a 50 percent ground ball rate, making him that classic frustrating lefty with good command. Exactly the type of the pitcher the Tigers rarely handle well no matter how they stack up right-handed hitters in their lineup. Hope for some batted ball luck today.
Wood has a little extra wrinkle this year as he’s actually added a little bit of velocity on his sinker and is averaging 92.5 mph, a full tick more than in his Dodgers’ years. He is showing pretty strong splits at this point, so expect A.J. Hinch to use Eric Haase and for the Tigers’ switch-hitters to have productive days at the plate. Unfortunately nothing seems to be able to get Jonathan Schoop and Spencer Torkelson going, and typically they are the type of hitter one would expect to feast on Wood if anyone will. Javier Báez fits that criteria as well, but has been swinging it better in recent weeks. Someone needs to have a good game and score in the power department.
The Giants aren’t great so far this season, but they’re certainly the far better team. Still, if the Tigers play a relatively clean game I like their chances of coming home on a winning note. Detroit’s best relievers are still pretty well rested thanks to the off days in between the last two series, and the Tigers’ pen has been better than the Giants’ overall. If this comes down to a battle of bullpens as expected, the Tigers should have the advantage.