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Game 115 Preview: Tigers look to even up series vs. White Sox

Detroit dropped the opener on Friday night in a low-scoring affair and hope to score a Saturday night win.

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Tampa Bay Rays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers’ losing streak reached the five-game mark on Friday night when they dropped the opener of a three-game weekend road series to the Chicago White Sox, 2-0. Daniel Norris’ return to the Olde English D was much more triumphant than many expected, as the hurler — who has been used almost exclusively as a reliever in recent years — managed to make it through 4 23 innings without surrendering a run. However, the offense also failed to score a run, scattering just three hits over nine frames in the loss.

The Motor City Kitties get a chance to even things up on Saturday night against their American League Central foes, and things actually look pretty promising for this evening. The visitors send out their young stud who finally appears to be figuring things out while the home team has a veteran who has struggled this season after earning Cy Young votes the last three years. Here is how Saturday’s action lines up.

Detroit Tigers (43-71) at Chicago White Sox (57-56)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Guaranteed Rate Field
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Matt Manning (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. RHP Lucas Giolito (8-6, 4.91 ERA)

Game 115 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Manning 20.0 15.2 8.9 4.27 0.2
Giolito 106.1 25.9 9.1 4.28 0.9

Matt Manning had one of the best outings of his nascent major league career the last time he pitched, tossing seven innings of shutout ball on four hits and three walks while tying a career-high in strikeouts with seven against the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately, a bullpen meltdown by Gregory Soto led to a team loss that day but the 24-year-old started showing the promise that compelled Detroit to select him in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft straight out of high school.

The good news is also that the last time the young right-hander faced the ChiSox, back on October 2, 2021, he threw what was also one of his best games yet, lasting five scoreless frames allowing just two hits and a walk while also striking out seven. The bad news is the other games he pitched against the Windy City boys earlier in the season did not go nearly as well. Nonetheless, Manning appears to be trending upwards, with his injury being the only true trammel to his success this summer.

Lucas Giolito’s 2022 campaign has been a step back from where he was over the past few seasons, as most if not all of his traditional metrics have reached their worst levels since 2018. The 28-year-old’s success against Detroit this year has been mixed, however. He made it through four innings in his first start of the season back on April 8, allowing a hit and two walks while striking out six for a no-decision in a game his team lost, 5-4.

The Tigers got to the veteran right-hander in their second meeting, pounding the pitcher for five runs on five hits and two walks — including a home run — while striking out eight over 6 23 innings to take the loss on July 8. Since then, Giolito has started five games putting up a 4.44 ERA and 3.65 FIP over 24 13 innings, striking out 23 and allowing two home runs.

Key Matchup: Can Manning keep it going?

Dating back to his final start of the 2021 season, Detroit’s former first-rounder has been quite impressive — even without Porcello-ing out the injury game. While he has shown the progress we have all hoped for, there is still plenty of headroom for improvement. Over the 2021 and 2022 seasons combined, Manning’s ISO against his four-seamer is an excellent .108, but once his velocity gets back up into mid-90s regularly with good command, the whiffs should come more readily; honing his slider will play a big role in taking that next step as well. But if he can continue doing what he has lately, the Tigers could very well snap the schneid and get back on the winning track against their hated rivals.