It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Detroit Tigers so far in July, which included a six-game winning streak that turned into a four-game losing streak. They have now lost six of their last seven after dropping the opener for a four-game set in Cleveland Thursday night, 4-0, as Guardians starter Tristan McKenzie once again stymied the visitors’ bats.
With the All-Star break awaiting at the end of the weekend, the good guys will get a few more chances to tack on some wins starting on Friday night before beginning their midsummer breather. Heading to the mound wearing the Olde English D is a journeyman veteran who has provided his team with some much-needed innings this season while the home team sends a young major league legacy to the bump to do battle. Take a look at what is on tap below.
Detroit Tigers (37-53) at Cleveland Guardians (43-44)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Progressive Field
SB Nation Site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchups: RHP Drew Hutchison (1-4, 4.08 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Plesac (2-7, 3.99 ERA)
Game 91 Pitching Matchup
There is nothing sexy about what Drew Hutchison does, but one thing is for sure, and that is he has been getting the job done. The 31-year-old journeyman, who has been dodging DFAs during his tenure with the Tigers and still keeps coming back, has provided a solid presence on the mound since switching to a starting role four outings ago. Over that stretch, the right-hander has tossed 19 2⁄3 innings with a tidy 3.66 ERA but less impressive 4.48 FIP, allowing 19 hits (including a pair of home runs) and five walks while striking out seven; Detroit won half of those games.
Clutch Hutch earned a lone win during that stretch against the same team he faces on Friday back on July 5, throwing five frames of two-run ball (one earned) on five hits and no walks while striking out two for the 11-4 victory. His most recent game against the Chicago White Sox was nearly as good, lasting six much-needed innings while allowing a pair of runs on five hits, a walk and a dinger, while sending three batters down on strikes. The grizzled veteran appears to still have plenty left in his tank and hopefully he can toss another quality start against the Guardians.
Zach Plesac, the nephew of former major league pitcher Dan Plesac, is now in his fourth year in the big leagues after Cleveland picked him in the 12th round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Ball State. The 27-year-old has seen a slight rebound this season after a 2021 campaign in which his 4.67 ERA and 4.73 FIP were a bit on the high side but a perfectly acceptable 1.20 WHIP. However, things have not gone well for him in the win-loss column despite four defeats in games where his team scored one run or less. (Sound familiar?) In fact, most of the damage against him came in a couple of games in which he got torched, but otherwise, he has given the Guardians a chance to win in plenty of his outings.
The right-hander gets by on a four-pitch arsenal featuring a four-seam fastball (92 mph), slider (85.1 mph), changeup (85.7 mph) and curveball (79.3 mph), according to Baseball Savant, along with a sparsely used sinker (89.4 mph). Plesac leans on his four-seamer 43.1% of the time, while his slider and changeup are mixed in at 24.8% and 21.8%, respectively, while the curve sees usage at 10%; the sinker has been thrown only five times per Statcast. How well does it all fit together? Not all that impressively in comparison to his peers.
Key Matchup: Hutch vs. the Quality Start
Detroit’s Friday night starter has shown that he is capable of keeping his opponents at bay and has been an important cog in a pitching staff that is being held together by medical tape and bubblegum. You cannot ask much more of the man as he is capable of keeping the game under control... for the most part. He earned his first win of the 2022 season last time out against the Guardians, and given his performance in his following start, there is no reason he cannot go out and replicate those performances again.