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Game 56 Preview: Tigers look to sweep two-game set against Pirates

Detroit took the first game on Tuesday night and have a chance to take two from Pittsburgh.

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

The Detroit Tigers bounced back from a brutal beating in the Bronx at the hands of the New York Yankees last weekend, taking the first of two on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night, 5-3, thanks to another great effort from Tarik Skubal. The offense looked alive for once as three players notched a pair of hits including Tucker Barnhard, who went 2-for-3 with a walk; Javy Báez and Willi Castro also got in on the hitting action with two of their own.

On Wednesday afternoon during the lunch hour on the east coast, the two teams will face off once again on the diamond to settle the score in this two-game midweek series. The Tigers send out one of their emerging starting studs while the Pirates ship out a struggling hurler who has yet to really find himself in the big leagues. Take a look below at what to expect from this early matchup between the two interleague rivals.

Detroit Tigers (22-33) at Pittsburgh Pirates (24-29)

Time/Place: 12:35 p.m., PNC Park
SB Nation site: Bucs Dugout
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Alex Faedo (1-2, 3.09 ERA) vs. RHP Mitch Keller (2-5, 5.77 ERA)

Game 56 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 16.0 19.4 9.7 7.58 -0.3
Berríos 56.2 19.8 6.5 4.71 0.3

Alex Faedo has been a godsend for the Tigers’ starting pitching staff, keeping his opponents at two runs or less in each of his first six major league starts so far while also guaranteeing at least five frames per outing. His most recent start on June 2 against the Minnesota Twins was a continuation of the status quo, throwing five innings of two-run ball on five hits and two walks while striking out five en route to a no-decision in Detroit’s 3-2 win that day.

Mitch Keller, originally drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft out of high school in Iowa, is now in his fourth season with the Bucs. While he put up nice numbers during his sophomore campaign in 2020, the COVID-shortened season kept the sample size tiny and was in all likelihood an outlier due to his bloated FIP. Overall, the 26-year-old right-hander is not much to write home about.

Key Matchup: Tigers vs. the three-run rule

There are two trends that have emerged on this team recently, with the first being Faedo’s proclivity for allowing just a pair of runs. The other is Detroit’s ability to win games in which they score three runs (or more). Connect the two dots and it is pretty clear that the Tigers have an open path to victory today if these patterns hold up. And against the Pirates, the odds are pretty high they will.