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Game 131 preview: Eduardo Rodriguez looks to avoid the sweep

Spencer Torkelson and Ryan Kreidler will join the team today but probably won’t see action until Friday against the Royals.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If the 2022 Seattle Mariners ultimately hold on to a wild card berth, they may have the Detroit Tigers to thank in part. The first two games of the series have not gone well at all for the home team. The surging Mariners will look for the sweep on Thursday afternoon, a sweep that would help them carry some momentum into the stretch drive, but they’ll have Eduardo Rodriguez to deal with to get there.

The Tigers will also welcome in some reinforcements on Thursday. Spencer Torkelson has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo as rosters expand on September 1 to 28 players. The wayward first baseman has looked to be trying to quiet his hands in Toledo, and tinkered a bit with short leg kicks and toe taps trying to find a better timing mechanism. Overall, while he’s been productive for the Hens, no signs of an imminent breakout were apparent. If, as has been posited, Torkelson is a little reluctant to make a bigger change in season, getting his butt kicked for another month in the majors might be a good motivator heading into the offseason. Even better would be if he’s sorted out some of his issues. Either way, bringing him back makes plenty of sense.

Along with Torkelson, Michael Pineda has been reinstated after a rehab assignment, and is slated to start on Saturday at home against the Royals. To clear a spot, shortstop Zack Short was optioned back to Toledo.

Finally, shortstop Ryan Kreidler has also been called up as the 28th man. After a breakout campaign in 2021, Kreidler was expected to get his first look at the majors this spring. Unfortunately, a fractured hand sank those plans, and left him rehabbing the injury most of the year. Since his return to full-time action he’s been solid for the Mud Hens, but hasn’t really gotten on the kind of roll we saw last year. Hopefully he can finish strong and gain some experience that will benefit his offseason work. Kreidler will be added to the 40-man roster in the process, which would’ve had to happen this offseason prior to the Rule 5 draft anyway. RHP Rony Garcia has been transferred to the 60-day injured list to create a 40-man vacancy for Kreidler. That puts the decision on who to cut from the 40 off into the offseason, when, presumably, a new general manager will be in place to make the decision.

Detroit Tigers (50-80) at Seattle Mariners (72-58)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Lookout Landing
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-3, 3.60 ERA) vs. RHP Logan Gilbert (10-5, 3.49 ERA)

So far, Eduardo Rodriguez’s return to action has gone quite well. He’ll give the Tigers their best chance to win a game and avoid the sweep as long as his command is sharp. He’s allowed just one earned run in 11 innings since his return. The stuff hasn’t necessarily looked that sharp, but Rodriguez has the ability to work with less than 100 percent of his best. The Mariners will certainly test that ability if he doesn’t have all three pitches working.

As for Logan Gilbert, the right-hander should find Comerica Park to his liking as a fly ball pitcher. Gilbert has pretty pedestrian strikeout numbers, and will surrender an average number of home runs, so the Tigers don’t have much excuse not to put up a few runs against him. However, the way things have gone for the offense we wouldn’t be surprised if Gilbert keeps them lifting fly balls to center field for routine outs much of the afternoon either.

Unlike some other Mariners pitchers, Gilbert has stuck mostly with the fourseamer this year. He pumps the heater in there at an average of 96 mph, and while the movement is nothing special, he tends to get his share of whiffs and induces a lot of lazy fly balls with it. A good curveball and a solid changeup are his two best secondaries, with the latter only occasionally broken out against left-handed hitters. Gilbert throws his 87 mph slider more than either, but it’s a bit hit or miss for him with the slider. He gets plenty of whiffs, but hitters will do damage if he leaves it up over the plate, and he has a tendency to do so.

Overall the pitching matchup is pretty even. It would be nice to see the Tigers get a little boost from their new arrivals, but after playing in Rochester last night, neither Torkelson nor Kreidler will be in the lineup until Friday, when the Kansas City Royals come to town. So it’ll be up to the regular group to get it done. Personally, I’m a little tired of seeing Kerry Carpenter sit on the bench when a right-hander is starting, but perhaps he’ll get in the game later on. Eric Haase will DH in this one, with Barnhart and his ability to steal strikes to the sides of the plate a benefit to E-Rod.