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Game 121 Preview: Can the Tigers get back on the winning path versus the Angels?

Detroit hosts Los Angeles this weekend for a three-game series in Motown.

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

The Detroit Tigers had a decent week, splitting a four-game series with the Cleveland Guardians at home that also snapped an eight-game losing streak. The good guys won two in a row to take Games 2 and 3 but the visitors prevailed in the finale to prevent the winning streak from stretching any further. Now that the weekend is here, the Los Angeles Angels arrive in town to take on the Motor City Kitties in a three-game set between a pair of sub-.500 teams

Friday’s affair features two young hurlers who are still working on realizing their full major-league potential. For the Tigers, a former first-round pick out of high school heads out to toe the rubber while the Angels also have a pitcher plucked straight from the prep ranks who is looking steady in 2022. Take a look at what is in store for tonight’s action.

Detroit Tigers (45-75) vs. Los Angeles Angels (51-67)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Halos Heaven
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, Fox Sports 1, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchups: RHP Matt Manning (0-0, 3.24 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Sandoval (3-8, 3.42 ERA)

Game 121 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Manning 25.0 16.2 7.6 3.76 0.5
Sandoval 100.0 23.8 11.0 3.27 0.0

Matt Manning hit his first major non-injury set-back of the 2022 campaign his last time out against the Chicago White Sox, in which he was pounded for four runs on 10 hits and one walk while striking out five over five frames in a no-decision loss that day. The 24-year-old’s command simply was not present — and his command has been a bit of an issue even while he was humming along — getting nickel-and-dimed by the opposing hitters. The outing added nearly a full run to his ERA but his FIP dropped nearly half a run, which of course, is not surprising in the tiny big league sample size he has this year.

Patrick Sandoval takes the mound opposite of Manning now in his fourth major league season after being drafted by the Houston Astros in the 11th round of the 2015 MLB draft straight out of high school. The left-hander made his way to the City of Angels via a trade that sent him and slot money in exchange for Martin Maldanado back in 2018. He would get his first shot at the major league level the next season; he struggled in his first two campaigns but has started to find a groove in his last two.

The 25-year-old gets by with a five-pitch arsenal led by a slider (86.3 mph), changeup (83.8 mph), four-seam fastball (93 mph), sinker (93.5 mph) and curveball (79.2 mph), which he employs at 26.8%, 24.7%, 23.6%, 15.3% and 9.6% clips, respectively, according to Baseball Savant. Sandoval’s seemingly backward approach is getting some decent results this season despite an elevated 1.49 WHIP, as demonstrated by his standing among his peers below.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Matt Manning vs. his groove

Detroit’s young hurler was coming along nicely this summer — save for the injury that hampered his efforts — until his last outing, which came against a team that currently sits third among the majors in batting average. Friday’s opponent, however, sits in the cellar with the Tigers when it comes to offensive output, ranking 27th in batting average and on-base percentage while placing slightly better at 22nd in slugging percentage for a soggy No. 26 standing in OPS. This is the kind of lineup Manning needs to face to get back in gear, and if he can do so, maybe — just maybe — the Olde English D has a chance tonight.