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Game 92 Preview: Tigers to try and break through Guardians on Saturday

Cleveland took to opening two of a four-game weekend series, leaving Detroit with just two more chances.

MLB: Game One-Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers are back on the schneid after dropping its third game in a row and seventh of their last eight games since running off a six-game winning streak. Friday night saw the Motor City Kitties take on the Cleveland Guardians in enemy territory, losing the second of a four-game weekend series against their American League Central rivals, 6-5, after a late-game implosion by Michael Fulmer seized defeat from the jaws of victory. The good news was that the bats came alive as Riley Greene and Harold Castro brought the lumber, but alas, it was not quite enough.

The visitors can still salvage a split in the series if they can snag a win on Saturday afternoon. A veteran still looking to find his footing this season will sport the Olde English D on the mound while the home team sends a younger hurler who has slipped a bit from last season to the bump as well. Here is how the pair compare.

Detroit Tigers (37-54) at Cleveland Guardians (45-44)

Time/Place: 4:10 p.m., Progressive Field
SB Nation Site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, Fox Sports 1, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchups: RHP Michael Pineda (2-4, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (5-5, 3.99 ERA)

Game 92 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pineda 37.2 12.5 3.9 5.34 0.0
Quantrill 94.2 14.5 7.0 4.58 0.6

Among the many problems that plagued the Tigers’ pitching staff this season was Michael Pineda’s visa issue, which delayed his arrival in Detroit during a time the team was suffering from great attrition. Then he took a liner to his hand and suffered a broken right middle finger, which fortunately did not require surgery but still landed him on the shelf for a spell. The 33-year-old now has three starts under his belt since returning from the injury — eight overall in 2022 — in which he has been good for essentially five innings each outing to the tune of a 4.11 ERA and 5.98 FIP. His minuscule strikeout and walk rates suggest he puts the ball in play a lot and FIP does not like it one bit.

The second of those three games for the veteran right-hander came against Saturday’s opponent back on July 6 in Detroit, in which threw five frames of two-run ball, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out a pair to earn his second win of the season. He did allow a home run, which has been a problem for him recently surrendering at least one in each of his last three and two in his first start after returning from the injured list. Keeping the ball in the park will be important to Pineda’s success against the Guardians.

Cal Quantrill gets his second shot at the Tigers this season after facing them in Detroit on July 5 in which he got pounded over four frames, allowing six runs (three earned) on eight hits and two walks plus a dinger while striking out four and hitting a batter; both the 27-year-old and his team took the loss that day in an 11-4 shellacking. That outcome was not a complete outlier as he is prone to giving up hits in bunches and has yet to put up a scoreless outing yet this season, but he has also shown the ability to eat innings for the Guardians.

The right-hander’s most recent outing came against the Chicago White Sox in Cleveland, which saw him earn the win despite allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings. In fact, he has been extremely run-prone over his last five outings, putting up a 5.46 ERA and a near-matching 5.47 FIP by allowing 20 runs (17 earned) over 28 innings. The former first-round pick out of Stanford seems ripe for the pickings for a team that has struggled at the plate this year.

Key Matchup: Tigers bats vs Quantrill

So there it is, the Tigers face a very hittable pitcher who they have already proven they can batter around. Pineda will surely allow a few Guards to cross the plate so the bats have to take advantage of the (mis)matchup — and there is no reason to believe they will not, especially after Detroit’s offensive performance on Friday night. Keep in mind that both of Riley Greene’s home runs have come off of right-handers, and he has tallied a .369 OBP and .127 ISO so far against them good enough for a 121 wRC+. It would be great to see the youngster continue to impress at the plate on Saturday afternoon.