clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Tigers head to nation’s capital for weekend trio vs. Washington Nationals

After splitting a pair in Comerica Park this week with the Pirates, the Tigers hit the road to face the Nats.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

MLB: MAY 15 Mets at Nationals Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers have had a strong month of May, going 9-5 since the calendar flipped after splitting a pair in a midweek matchup inside Comerica Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The second game of the series saw Eduardo Rodriguez falter for the first time in several starts, preventing the Motor City Kitties from gaining any ground in the American League Central division — however, they are back in a tie for second place with the Cleveland Guardians at three-and-a-half games behind the Minnesota Twins.

With the Bucs now in the rearview mirror, the Tigers hit the road and travel to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Nationals for a three-game weekend series to keep interleague play going. The Nats have not been doing so hot this season and have been mediocre this month, winning eight of their 17 games — which is an improvement on their April clip — but coming into this one on the heels of a three-game sweep at the Miami Marlins.

So what gives? We will find out this weekend as the Tigers and Nationals clash inside Nationals Park from Friday to Sunday. Take a look below at how the pitching matchups line up.

Detroit Tigers (19-22) vs. Washington Nationals (18-26)

Times (EDT): Friday: 7:05 p.m.; Saturday: 4:05 p.m.; Sunday: 1:35 p.m.
Place: Nationals Park, District of Columbia
SB Nation Site: Federal Baseball
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 42 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Boyd 32.0 19.9 10.3 4.92 0.2
Irvin 15.1 21.9 12.5 3.43 0.4

Game 42: LHP Matthew Boyd (2-3, 6.47 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Irvin (1-1, 4.11 ERA)

Boyd looked like he was turning the corner two starts ago against the St. Louis Cardinals, throwing his first quality start of the season. Well, that all came crashing down last time out against his hometown Seattle Mariners, who pounded him for six runs (five earned) over 1 1/3 innings in Detroit — but no home runs — for his third loss of the season. The 32-year-old had been reliable in getting through the opposing batting order a couple of times and will need to regain that form against the Nats if the Tigers have any chance of winning on Friday.

Irvin is a young rookie just getting his first taste of the big leagues in 2023, and so far, he has done a decent job holding his own through three starts. The 26-year-old, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by D.C., has only made it past the fifth inning once when he scored a quality start against the San Francisco Giants, shutting them out over 6 13 frames while striking out five. The right-hander gets by on a four-pitch arsenal led off by a four-seam fastball (93.3 mph, 33.5%), curveball (79.2 mph, 31.9%), sinker (92.8 mph, 23.2%) and changeup (88.0 mph, 11.4%), per Baseball Savant.

Game 43 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Faedo 10.2 19.5 2.4 6.95 -0.1
Corbin 50.1 14.0 4.5 4.47 0.6

Game 43: RHP Alex Faedo (0-1, 4.22 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (2-5, 4.65 ERA)

Faedo has had the unenviable task of filling in for a few injured starters and has done so in a fairly mediocre fashion. In a small sample size, the 27-year-old is actually performing better than last season in a few metrics but some of his numbers are still all over the place. There is a wide gap between his ERA and FIP while his 0.75 WHIP is wildly unsustainable. Nonetheless, the former Gator has to eat up some innings, and if his last start — which was one of the quality variety — is any indication, the Tigers should get what they need.

Corbin is the grizzled veteran of this weekend’s rotation for both teams, now in his 11th big league campaign and fifth with the Nationals. The 33-year-old is several seasons separated from the last time he was mentioned for a Cy Young award but has managed to keep chugging along despite sub-mediocre results. According to Baseball Savant’s 2023 MLB Percentile Rankings, the southpaw is in the 26th percentile or worse in nine categories — three of which he is in the bottom 7th percentile or worse.

Game 44 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Wentz 36.2 18.8 8.8 5.29 0.0
Gray 52.2 20.0 9.8 4.19 0.9

Game 44: LHP Joey Wentz (1-3, 6.38 ERA) vs. RHP Josiah Gray (3-5, 2.73 ERA)

Wentz is another Tigers starter who was bounced early the last time they took the mound, lasting just 2 23 innings after giving up three earned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out three Mariners. It was a bit of a regression from his first win of the season against Cleveland, in which he nearly recorded a quality start on 5 23 frames of two-run ball. Detroit could really use a five-innings-plus effort from him on Sunday.

Gray, originally drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, has been a delightful surprise in D.C. this season so far in his third major league campaign. However, while the traditional metrics look sharp, his FIP suggests he is getting a bit lucky while his WHIP (1.35) indicates that that luck is running on precious, borrowed time. The 25-year-old employs a six-pitch arsenal headlined by a slider (86.2 mph, 29.5%), four-seam fastball (93.5 mph, 28.0%), curveball (82.6 mph, 19.8%), cutter (89.2 mph, 19.2%), sinker (93.3 mph, 3.3%) and changeup (89.2 mph, 0.2%), per Baseball Savant.

Series Outlook: Battle of two impotent offenses

There is some good news heading into this weekend’s series — neither of these teams have an overwhelming hurler on the mound and both are limp noodles at the plate. While the Tigers remain at the very bottom of the majors in OPS (tied with Cleveland at .643) the Nats are not much better ranked at No. 25 (.692). Additionally, Washington is one of two teams with fewer home runs than Detroit (the other being Cleveland) which should be a welcome stat for at least Boyd. So expect a few low-scoring affairs in which the pitching makes all the difference. With that in mind, I do not see why the Olde English D cannot take two of three.