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Game 80 Preview: Tigers look to seize series win versus Guardians

After sweeping the opening doubleheader on 4th of July, Detroit can stick a dagger in their AL Central rivals.

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MLB: JUN 19 Rangers at Tigers Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers put on a fireworks show of their own for the Fourth of July in a series-opening doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians at home which saw the good guys pull off a 4-1 early win followed by a 5-3 victory in the nightcap. Garrett Hill made his major league debut in the opening game and it was a beauty as he became the first pitcher in Tigers history to toss six or more innings while allowing two hits or fewer to earn the win in his first big league appearance.

The second matchup, however, saw Alex Faedo leave the game early with right hip soreness, but it appears that he will be ok ahead of being sent back down to Toledo. The baseball gods continue to demand their sacrifices it seems, but at least the home team got the win.

On Tuesday, the Motor City Kitties get a chance to clinch a series win in a four-game set against their rivals from the city of burning rivers, but with a pitching staff wearing thin, they will be sending an absolute paragon of a replacement player to the hill. Meanwhile, the visitors have a hurler who has shown some regression this season taking the bump in hopes of fending off the Tigers’ attack. Here is a look at who will man the mound for the two respective teams.

Detroit Tigers (32-47) vs. Cleveland Guardians (40-38)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m, Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Drew Hutchison (0-4, 4.81 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (4-4, 3.72 ERA)

Game 81 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pineda 27.1 13.8 3.7 5.31 0.0
Bieber 91.0 25.3 6.0 2.83 2.3

Just when he thinks he is out... they pull him back in...

Drew Hutchison, who has survived the DFA merry-go-round several times with the Tigers over the past couple of years, once again finds himself starting a game for Detroit after his most recent trip on the carousel — albeit, the roster shenanigans are necessary due to the attrition the pitching staff has experienced as well as his status as a major league veteran. Putting up numbers that equate to exactly zero on the fWAR scale, the 31-year-old still remains good enough to eat some innings for the Olde English D, and truthfully, he seems to be exactly who he is with an ERA and FIP that almost perfectly agree.

The right-hander’s last outing against the Texas Rangers was not his best effort, surrendering three runs on four hits and two walks, allowing a home run while striking out one over 4 23 innings in a game the Tigers ultimately won. Clutch Hutch has not thrown more than 62 pitches in a game this season — of course, this will only be his third start of 2022 — so the bullpen will need to be ready to take the baton from the grizzled journeyman regardless of his performance.

Cal Quantrill takes the mound for Cleveland now in his fourth major league season after being selected No. 8 overall by the San Diego Padres in the 2016 MLB draft out of Stanford, after which he was shipped off to his current franchise in the Mike Clevinger swap ahead of the 2020 trade deadline. The right-hander put up a 5.16 ERA, 4.28 FIP and 1.30 WHIP over 103 innings during his rookie season (but got off to a strong start the next year) before heading to the junior circuit, where he fared much better including an impressive 2021 campaign that saw him throw 149 23 innings to the tune of a 2.89 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 1.18 WHIP. However, he has taken a step back this season so far, it appears.

The 27-year-old gets by on a five-pitch arsenal headlined by his sinker (93 mph), followed by a cutter (88 mph), changeup (84.9 mph), four-seam-fastball (92.7 mph) and curveball (81.2 mph), according to Baseball Savant, which he employs 45.9%, 39.6%, 9.9%, 3.1% and 1.6% of the time, respectively. Quantrill’s heavy sinker-cutter reliance has trended upward significantly from last year while his four-seamer has trended downwards; the offspeed has remained about the same while he dumped his slider and went with just the curve this season. Here is how that is working out for the Guardians’ guy.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Hutchison vs. pitch count

More than anything, the Tigers really need their starter to burn some frames and get deep into the game before the bullpen takes over. After a doubleheader yesterday and with the All-Star break a couple of weeks away, Detroit needs all it can get from every healthy arm they have to reach the midsummer pause. Sure, he will give up a few runs, but if he can just keep things close hopefully the offense will find a seam and break through the Guardians.