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Game 108 Preview: Tigers look to strike back versus Rays on Friday

Tampa Bay took the first of a four-game set on Thursday but Detroit has a chance to even things up.

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Detroit Tigers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers have started the month of August sluggishly, losing three of their four games including Thursday night’s weekend series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. The home squad took the 6-2 loss after another lackluster performance overall, as Drew Hutchison surrendered four runs — only two earned — in what was a decent effort from the veteran journeyman but simply not enough to overcome the visiting team.

Three games still remain in the series and the Tigers have a chance to even things up on Friday night. However, the pitching matchup does not favor the home team, as it plans on sending a converted closer to the mound for the start while the Rays send an accomplished hurler who has a pair of Cy Young awards under his belt. Who will win out? We will all see this evening. Here is what is in store for Game 2.

Detroit Tigers (42-65) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (56-49)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: DRaysBay
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Bryan Garcia (0-0, 4.91 ERA) vs RHP Corey Kluber (7-6, 4.03 ERA)

Game 108 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Garcia 3.2 18.8 12.5 6.66 0.0
Kluber 105.0 21.6 3.7 3.37 2.3

Bryan Garcia gets his second major league start after spending the bulk of his baseball career as a relief pitcher, finishing his time at the University of Miami as the all-time saves leader in school history. Tough times call for tough measures, however, and with the attrition that the Tigers have experienced at the pitching position this season, the team brass figured they might as well give the 27-year-old a shot at opening games up.

The right-hander’s debut this season against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 29 was not terribly impressive, going just 3 23 innings allowing three hits and two walks, plus a home run, while striking out three. It did, however, give the fans a chance to see his three-pitch arsenal which consists of a 94.3 mph sinker, 86.6 mph slider and an 86.7 mph changeup that he utilizes at 50%, 30.9% and 19.1% clips, respectively, according to Baseball Savant.

Corey Kluber continues to cruise along now with the fourth franchise of his major league career. While the right-hander’s traditional numbers are fairly mediocre in his first season with Tampa Bay, his solid strikeout rate along with a microscopic walk rate keeps the 36-year-old in business during his 12th big league season.

The veteran pitcher faced Detroit once this season already back on May 16, when the Tigers took a 3-2 loss at the Trop thanks to a two-run effort that saw Kluber surrender four hits but no walks, while serving up a dinger and striking out eight batters over six frames. Unsurprisingly, it was one of his better starts this season, and it appears that his innings cap is set at six, as he has yet to go any deeper during the 2022 campaign.

Key Matchup: Get to Kluber early

If the Tigers have any chance at winning this one they need to figure out Klubot before he settles into a groove, especially given that Garcia will likely turn the game over to the bullpen early on. And while the bullpen has done an admirable job this season, carrying all of that weight for the Olde English D has begun to wear it down as the summer continues to roll along. The Rays’ starter has given Detroit fits over the years, and with an offense that is still often stuck in neutral, the home team needs to find a way to put it in gear. This is one of those matchups where the good guys need to score early and often to give its pitching staff some breathing room... or else it could get ugly.