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Game 136 Preview: Tigers facing yet another sweep unless fortunes change

Can “Clutch Hutch” help the Tigers avoid the sweep?

MLB: Game One-Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers overcame a shaky start and early three-run deficit to force extra innings and briefly took a lead only to bobble and literally throw the game away in the bottom of the tenth. Now they will need to try for a win to avoid yet another sweep in Los Angeles and they will need to go through one of the Angels’ toughest pitchers to do so.

With 26 games remaining in the regular season, the Tigers remain in serious danger of finishing with 100 losses. In fact, it’s looking quite likely the way they’ve played recently...well okay, all year long. Their current .375 season winning percentage has them on course for 101 losses. There may be little to play for, but there are no prizes for being awful anymore, as the draft lottery is coming in 2023. Frankly, tanking for top picks was always badly oversold as some kind of strategy. It would be great if the Tigers could find something to motivate themselves over the final weeks of the season. Avoiding finishing with a sub-60 win total, or more than 100 losses, may be all they have left in this unsalvageable season.

Detroit Tigers (51-85) at Los Angeles Angels (60-76)

Time/Place: 4:07 p.m., Angel Stadium of Anaheim
SB Nation Site: Halos Heaven
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Drew Hutchison (2-7, 4.06 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Sandoval (5-9, 3.02 ERA)

Game 136 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Sandoval 122.0 24.2 9.9 3.07 3.2
Hutchison 82.0 15.0 9.6 4.37 0.5

Patrick Sandoval would be the unquestioned ace of the Angels’ pitching staff if not for Shohei Ohtani. He leads the league in the lowest HR/9 rate at 0.44 and has a nearly identical ERA and FIP in the very low 3.00s. He features a five-pitch mix but mostly uses the slider, changeup, and fastball to get results. He has very much above-average marks in K%, hard hit %, chase %, whiff %, and curveball spin. Quite simply, he has nasty stuff and is rarely hit hard. About the only chink in the armor is a high BB% but a few more walks than normal won’t hurt you if you aren’t letting the ball leave the yard.

Drew Hutchison will take the mound once again for the Tigers looking to deliver another solid start. He still doesn’t have overpowering stuff, and he still doesn’t strike many guys out yet he’s strung together several quality outings in a row. He’s pitched between five and six innings and given up three runs or fewer in his last seven outings back to late July. The Angels’ bats have been red hot so far in the series so he’ll need to be his most clutch self yet to give the Tigers a chance. If he can manage to keep Trout and Ohtani in check, he has a good chance, but that’s much easier said than done.

Key Matchup: Can the Tigers look like they care

For all of Hutchison’s clutch work with unremarkable stuff, it won’t mean anything if the Tigers can’t put runs on the board. and frankly, they haven’t looked much up to that task. They had a brief offensive outburst in Texas where it looked like maybe they would finish the year strong but now that simply looks like a minor blip on the radar as they have plunged back into a 1-7 record in their last 8 games. They simply look outclassed and outmatched in every aspect and they play like a team that is ready for the season to be over.

Obviously, it’s different for all the young guys in their first looks at the majors, including Riley Greene. But most of the club feels like they’ve checked out. Instead of watching this one, let Dan Dickerson’s soothing voice serenade you and your family on the radio as you cook out on your patio or deck this evening. Even if the Tigers lose, you’ll still win.