It’s that magical time of the year when you can choose to watch the Detroit Tigers lose or choose to watch the Detroit Lions lose on any given Sunday. Okay, maybe you’d prefer a win from both teams like myself, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Putting football aside for a second, the Tigers have been on fire lately, outscoring the Kansas City Royals 18-6 over the last two games. Those two wins not only set up the chance for a road sweep of the Royals but also gives the Tigers a shot at tying the season series. A quick glance at both teams’ records also tells us that this matchup could help decide who finishes last in the AL Central.
The recent offensive spark has been a team effort. The young guys, Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene and Kerry Carpenter have found a bit of a groove, and even guys like Eric Haase are seeing the ball well. These are the kind of late-season improvements that can carry over to next year, and even though it sounds cliche, these last 22 games are incredibly valuable for the young core that’s going to lead this team through years six, seven, eight and nine of this rebuild.
Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., Kauffman Stadium
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tyler Alexander (3-9, 5.23 ERA) vs. RHP Brady Singer (7-4, 3.38 ERA)
Game 140 pitching matchup
On the pitching side of things, the Tigers will throw lefty Tyler Alexander. He’s been replaceable this season with an ERA of 5.23 and FIP of 5.04 to match. His negative WAR comes as no surprise, and his slow stuff isn’t generating the same swing-and-miss rates it once was. That’s a problem for a pitcher like Alexander who tops out at around 91 or 92 mph.
In 2021, Alexander’s changeup generated a 26.5% whiff rate. This year it’s down to 14.9%. The same goes for his slider from 2021 to 2022. He dropped from 24.4% to 13.9%. They’ve figured him out, and that could mean we’ll see less and less of that beautiful mustache in 2023, but the numbers do not lie. Alexander has been the definition of replaceable, and he’ll have to bounce back somehow to prove that he still deserves a spot in the rotation when the new general manager comes to town.
Alexander hasn’t lasted five innings over his last three starts, so this could be that bounce-back game for him.
On Kansas City’s side, former Florida Gator Brady Singer continues to improve in year three of his major league career. The strikeouts have always been there for him, but now he’s learning to go deeper into games while keeping things close. His last time out against Detroit in July, Singer struck out nine Tigers but only lasted 4 2⁄3 innings after giving up a trio of runs. Knocking him out early is key for Detroit this Sunday, but that’s easier said than done.
Singer features a 94 mph sinker and an 85 mph slider that fools people often. Seriously, his slider has a 34.7 whiff percentage, which is way up from 29.1% a year ago. He’s found his put-away pitch, and it’s looking dangerous.
If the Tigers can get to the bullpen early, the chances for a sweep are high. Baseball can be a streaky sport, and this is as good as we’ve seen Detroit hit it all year. Hopefully, the luck keeps up and the Tigers and Lions end the day with a win.