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Series Preview: Tigers host Minnesota Twins for 3-game weekend set

Detroit is back to its winning ways and looks to keep it going against the AL Central-leading Twinkies.

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Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Things have turned around for the Detroit Tigers after a first half of June that saw the Motor City Kitties drop nine in a row and 10 out of 12 before a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis. Since then, AJ Hinch’s squad took three of four from the American League Central division leaders followed by two of three from the visiting Kansas City Royals last week.

This weekend has the Twins and Tigers once again facing each other — this time a three-game set at the comfortable confines of Comerica Park as the third-place Tigers look to claw back into the thick of the race just 4.5 games behind the .500 Twinkies. Minnesota has been perfectly mediocre in 2023 which is all a team needs to be to lead the worst division in baseball. Heck, it would surprise very few if the ALC winners finished the season with a losing record.

With all that said, take a look below at the pitching matchups for the three upcoming games this weekend in Detroit. Minny seems to have an edge overall, but with baseball being baseball, anything can happen.

Detroit Tigers (32-41) vs Minnesota Twins (38-38)

Times (EDT): Friday: 6:40 p.m.; Saturday: 7:15 p.m.; Sunday: 1:40 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 74 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Wentz 62.0 20.5 9.0 5.16 0.1
Maeda 16.0 19.2 4.1 4.52 0.1

Game 74: LHP Joey Wentz (1-7, 6.82 ERA) vs. RHP Kenta Maeda (0-4, 9.00 ERA)

Wentz’s last outing also came against Minny, and it was a beauty. The 25-year-old completed his bounce-back with a six-inning effort that saw him allow two runs on two hits and a walk while striking out a career-high nine batters. It was the only quality start of the season so far for the struggling lefty, but hopefully, also a sign that he has turned the corner.

Maeda makes the fifth start of his seven-year MLB career on Friday after returning from a right triceps strain he suffered at the end of April. The 35-year-old former NPB standout has struggled a bit to find his footing, but it is worth noting that his ugly numbers are a result of one REALLY bad outing plus some bad luck as well. That terrible start came last time out against the New York Yankees, who ran him out of the park with 10 runs on 11 hits and two walks while striking out two over three frames. It is very unlikely that he is as bad as his most recent performance, but he still should be ripe for feasting.

Game 75 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 19.1 23.8 6.3 5.99 0.2
López 90.0 29.5 7.0 3.48 1.9

Game 75: RHP Reese Olson (0-2, 5.59 ERA) vs. RHP Pablo López (3-4, 4.40 ERA)

Olson gets set to make his fifth MLB start on Saturday after starting strong with a pair of solid outings before regressing a bit in his last two. The 23-year-old’s most recent outing was actually a quality start, lasting six innings while giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk along with eight strikeouts — but a pair of dingers did him in. The rookie’s home runs per nine currently sit at an inflated 1.4, which really needs to be addressed if he is going to be a serviceable hurler this summer.

López, on the other hand, is off to another strong start in his sixth season in the big leagues and first in Minnesota after spending his first five campaigns with the Miami Marlins. While his ERA is a bit inflated from previous years, his FIP (3.48) and WHIP (1.14) are still well above average — thanks in large part to his high strikeout rate. The 27-year-old had strung two-straight QSs before the Boston Red Sox battered him around his last time out, dropping five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out nine over 5 23 frames to take the loss.

Game 76 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Lorenzen 72.0 18.6 6.2 4.41 0.6
Ober 63.2 23.2 5.6 3.48 1.1

Game 76: RHP Michael Lorenzen (2-5, 4.00 ERA) vs. RHP Bailey Ober (4-4, 2.83 ERA)

Lorenzen logged his sixth quality start last time out against the Royals, holding them to a run on six hits and three walks while striking out seven. After a pair of stinkers against Atlanta and KC, respectively, the 31-year-old appears to be back on track as the Tigers’ de facto ace.

Ober is putting up some impressive numbers in his third major league season — all with the Twinkies — logging the best ERA (2.83) and WHIP (1.02) of his young career so far. The 27-year-old has logged quality starts in three of his last four outings and has not allowed more than four runs in an outing while tossing no fewer than five frames. The 27-year-old represents the most difficult matchup for Detroit this weekend.

Series Outlook: A good chance to gain some ground

The Tigers were able to take three of four in Minneapolis a series ago and this time they have the home-field advantage on the division’s mediocre leader. Given that the Twinkies are truly nothing to write home about, the Tigers should be able to capitalize on their recent momentum in the D this weekend, but it will take some standout-pitching efforts to get to that promised land. Taking two out of three would put the Tigers 3.5 games out of first with a trip to play the Texas Rangers in Arlington ahead next week. Got to win the games you can win — and the next three games all qualify.