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Game 120 Preview: Daniel Norris closes out series vs Guardians

The Van Man looks to keep the good vibes going in the finale against the Guardians.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It may have taken a few times to review and get right, but the Tigers notched their second straight win last night as they took the third game of the series from the Guardians. They also evened up the season series vs Cleveland and now have a chance to take a season series from them for the first time since 2015.

Returning to the mound for a second time this year will be Daniel Norris. He looked quite good in his first return start with the Tigers against the White Sox. He used his slider and changeup to get lots of swings and misses from the south siders, and then stole crucial strikes with his heater in what amounted to nearly five innings of shutout ball on 64 pitches. Unfortunately for Norris and the Tigers, on the other side was Michael Kopech pitching an absolute gem. This time it’ll be Cal Quantrill. He should be in line to go about 75-80 pitches though he will certainly have his work cut out for him.

Detroit Tigers (45-74) vs. Cleveland Guardians (62-55)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Progressive Field
SB Nation Site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, Fox Sports 1, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchups: LHP Daniel Norris (0-4, 5.97 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (9-5, 3.67 ERA)

Game 120 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Norris 34.2 28.8 15.0 5.45 -0.3
Quantrill 130.0 16.0 16.5 4.38 1.1

The Tigers do not look like they’ll be getting any breaks with Quantrill in this one. The last time the Tigers faced him, it was also in Cleveland right before the All-Star break. In that meeting, he tossed six innings of four his shutout ball with two walks and five strikeouts. Quantrill is 4-0 with a 2.80 ERA counting the last time the Tigers faced him and he is currently holding a 13-inning shutout streak having shut down both the Astros and Blue Jays in his last two starts. Needless to say, he should be feeling REALLY good heading into this matchup with the offense on pace for a historically bad year.

The lone hope for Detroit might be trying to channel the energy and game plan they had against Quantrill when they faced him in Detroit on July 5th. In that game he gave up six runs, three earned, on eight hits over four innings. Quantrill has had several outings like that this year, so he is prone to suddenly having a rough night on the mound. The other thing working in the Tiger’s favor is that Quantrill mainly throws a sinker and a cutter and those are the two pitches the Tigers haven’t been completely terrible against in 2022. They’re still below average but not nearly as bad as they have been vs the slider, curveball, and (vomits) four-seam fastball.

Key Matchup: Norris vs. himself

While his first outing was pretty good and he continued to show the above-average swing-and-miss stuff that has kept Norris pitching in the major leagues, Tiger fans know all too well the biggest issue with Daniel Norris is himself. He’s prone to sudden losses of command and he can lose confidence in his pitches. His high K% and whiff% are offset by a high BB% and barrel%. When he loses his edge, he leaves meatballs over the heart of the plate and hitters don’t miss. Add to that, Cleveland hitters have the lowest K% in the majors at just 18.3% so they won’t be so prone to chasing his best stuff. He’ll need to stay mentally tough in this one as they lay off his chase pitches and not fall into one of his downward spirals.