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Series Preview: Detroit hosts Boston for home-opening weekend series

After going 2-4 on the road to kick off the 2023 campaign the Tigers now return to the friendly confines of Comerica Park.

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Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The home opener for the Detroit Tigers is finally here as the Boston Red Sox swing through town to kick things off at Comerica Park for a three-game weekend series that start on Thursday and skips Friday before concluding on Sunday. The two teams arrive with an equivalent 2-4 record, both earning a series win while getting swept out of the other in their first six games.

The good news for the Olde English D is that their wins have been more recent — whether there is an advantage due to winning momentum is yet to be seen but at least the fan base is feeling better about things now than after the Rays’ sweep to open the schedule. The BoSox dropped three straight at home prior to making the trip westward, so hopefully, they are feeling a bit demoralized as well.

Take a look below at the projected pitching matchups for the upcoming games as the Tigers and Red Sox prepare to clash in the Motor City.

Detroit Tigers (2-4) vs. Boston Red Sox (2-4)

Times (EDT): Thursday: 1:10 p.m.; Saturday: 4:10 p.m.; Sunday 1:10 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Over the Monster
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 7 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Turnbull 2.1 16.7 16.7 5.77 0.0
Sale 3.0 31.6 10.5 15.20 -0.3

Game 7: RHP Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 27.00 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (0-0, 21.00 ERA)

Turnbull gets his second start of the season after a rough outing in his official return from Tommy John surgery, which saw the Ray light him up for seven earned runs on eight hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch while striking out three in 2 13 innings. Both his four-seamer and sinker maxed out at 93.4 mph in the opener, which has the four-seam right at his historical average while the sinker is a tick slow.

Sale also struggled in his first 2023 major league appearance, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch, allowing three home runs while striking out six in just three frames of work. There was nothing significantly different to the veteran’s approach with his arsenal from last season but his 16.12 xERA is among the bottom 2% of the league.

Game 8 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Wentz 5.1 14.3 4.8 5.08 0.0
Houck 5.0 25.0 5.0 7.00 -0.1

Game 8: LHP Joey Wentz (0-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Tanner Houck (1-0, 5.40 ERA)

Wentz did not look bad in his first game of the schedule, tossing 5 13 innings of three-run ball, walking one and allowing a dinger while striking out three. The lack of offense that day ended up saddling him with the loss, but his performance against Tampa Bay was something to build upon.

Houck is the lone pitcher in this weekend’s starting rotation for either team with a win so far in the nascent season, thanks to a five-inning effort against the Baltimore Orioles in which he allowed three earned runs (apparently, three really is a magic number) on five hits and a walk while allowing a pair of home runs and striking out five. The fourth-year hurler’s four-seam fastball and sinker are both a tick below last season’s velocity, so it seems he is still missing a little bit of mustard on his fastball early on.

Game 9 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Boyd 4.1 15.8 15.8 3.89 0.0
Crawford 4.0 27.3 9.1 11.45 -0.2

Game 9: LHP Matthew Boyd (0-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. RHP Kutter Crawford (0-1, 15.75 ERA)

Boyd’s start against the Astros on Monday was the best one for the Tigers after a full turn through the rotation plus a one. The southpaw only lasted 4 13 innings as he began to fade early on but his two earned runs allowed on two hits and three walks while striking out three put his team in position to win that game that day.

Crawford was roughed up in his season debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits, two walks and a trio of home runs while striking out six over four frames for the loss. The third-year right-hander saw his cutter and changeup use increase in his first game compared to last season; it could be worth keeping an eye on how he mixes up his pitches on Sunday.

Series Outlook: Tigers have a chance to pad the record

This Red Sox team is not the powerhouse it once was, and despite the small sample size one has to be optimistic facing a starting corps that all has negative fWAR coming into the series. We saw the bats start to come to life in Houston after a demoralizing showing against the Rays, so in tandem with the rough start the Boston crew have had on the mound, there should be a few Tigers runners crossing home plate — especially if bringing in the walls actually makes a difference.