Unlike the Mariners, the Royals aren’t a playoff-bound team and should be far easier to beat. That said, these two clubs won’t be phoning it in. They play six times over the next 10 days and those games will not only settle a season series that Kansas City currently leads 6-4, but it also will help determine who finishes last in the division.
Spencer Torkelson and Ryan Kreidler are expected to join the starting lineup today after being called up to start the month. Fans are collectively holding their breath to see if Torkelson’s second stint in the Motor City will go better than his first. He batted just .197 over 83 games before the All-Star Break and has a -0.9 career fWAR. More on him in a bit.
Kreidler is making his major-league debut. It’s been a long journey that our own Jay Markle broke down when the call-ups were announced. Kreidler seemed bound to make his way to Detroit at some point this year after posting strong numbers in Triple-A.
Detroit Tigers (50-81) vs Kansas City Royals (53-79)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Drew Hutchison (2-7, 4.01 ERA) vs. LHP Daniel Lynch (4-9, 4.70 ERA)
UntitledGame 132 pitching matchup
On the mound for Detroit will be Clutch Hutch himself, Drew Hutchison. He’s been good for about five to six innings for the last two months but doesn’t get enough run support to sport a winning record. Hutchison features a 92-93 mph four-seamer and likes to use the slider to put guys away. His strikeout percentage isn’t insanely high, but over 40% of the balls batters put in play against him end up on the ground. He should be able to get it done against the Royals, but nothing’s guaranteed with this team.
Kansas City will throw left-hander Daniel Lynch. His metrics aren’t too scary, but a 20.7% strikeout percentage is concerning for the Tigers. How many times have we seen the Tigers flail away into double-digit strikeouts this year? Too many times. Lynch could easily rack up eight or nine Ks in six innings if Detroit isn’t diligent at the plate.
However, Lynch’s tendency to get the strikeout doesn’t mean he’s unhittable. He’s given up at least three runs in each of his last three games and usually surrenders half a dozen hits per outing. The Tigers need to jump on him early, but that might be asking too much.
Key Matchup: Torkelson vs himself
A former No. 1 overall pick in the MLB draft, Torkelson’s expectations for himself might be the highest of anybody. Some Tigers fans have already written him off as a bust, but that’s frankly ridiculous. This is a guy who is who has hit well at every level of the game, and it’s not the first time he’s struggled to adjust.
He worked on his swing during his 35-game stint with Toledo and the process slowly but surely turned into a success. Everything isn’t figured out just yet — Torkelson hit just .229 with the Mudhens with a 100 wRC+ and his strikeout rate actually worsened — but this quote from him in The Athletic gives me hope that he will figure it out.
“When things started finally to click a little bit, I felt my mind rest,” Torkelson said. “I’d go home from the field and I’d be like, ‘I didn’t think about where my hands were today. That’s a win.’”
Overthinking can prolong slumps like you wouldn’t believe. Torkelson is a natural-born hitter who struggled with the pressure of the majors. It happens. It sounds cliche, but getting back to his roots and enjoying the game a bit more will help him swing less like a robot and get him to start launching bombs like he’s used to.