The Detroit Tigers struggled over the weekend in the Windy City against the Chicago White Sox, scoring just three runs in three games while being swept by their American League Central division rivals. Saddled with those three defeats, the Motor City Kitties are now five games under .500 and back in a tie with the Cleveland Guardians for second place at 3.5 games back.
AJ Himch’s squad remains on the road this week as they travel to the City of Brotherly Love for a three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies. The defending National League pennant winners have struggled so far in 2023, putting together a very similar record to the Tigers.
The Olde English D is still suffering from the attrition caused by the injury bug, and as such, just one of this week’s starters for the Tigers has been announced. Meanwhile, the Phillies feature a couple of solid hurlers who have looked good this season plus a third who is still rounding into form. Take a look below at what is on tap for the midweek tangle between the D and Philly.
Detroit Tigers (26-31) at Philadelphia Phillies (27-32)
Times (EDT): Monday: 6:40 p.m.; Tuesday: 6:40 p.m.; Wednesday: 6:05 p.m.
Place: Citizen’s Ballpark, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
SB Nation Site: The Good Phight
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Game 58 Pitching Matchup
Wentz looked pretty sharp against the Texas Rangers — albeit a bit inefficient — allowing one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out five over 4 2⁄3 innings. It was only the second time this season the 25-year-old has held the opposition to just a run and snapped a three-game rough patch that saw him toss 8 2⁄3 innings to the tune of a 14.54 ERA and 5.48 FIP which resulted in losses two out of those three games. If the sophomore hurler had truly turned a corner last time out it will help his team immensely this week.
Nola, on the other hand, has been consistently solid for the Phillies so far this season, logging six quality starts out of 12 total appearances and otherwise keeping games manageable enough for his team to have a chance. The 30-year-old has struggled a bit of late, surrendering five and four runs over six frames in both of his last two starts, respectively, while continuing to serve up home runs at a frenetic pace that has him up to 1.4 per nine innings.
Game 59 Pitching Matchup
Game 59: TBD vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 5.65 ERA)
Walker has not been quite as reliable or consistent as Nola. The 30-year-old hurler has had some gems and some duds, managing five quality starts in his 12 games this spring – but the ones that were not got pretty ugly. As is the case with most pitchers, when the 11-year veteran keeps the ball in the park, things go well; when he does not, they do not. HE employs a six-pitch arsenal headlined by a splitter (88.2 mph, 34.8%), sinker (92.4 mph, 22.9%), four-seam-fastball (93.1 mph, 22.4%), cutter (87.1 mph, 9.3%), sweeper (82.4 mph, 7.2%) and curveball (73.7 mph, 3.5%), according to Baseball Savant.
Game 60 Pitching Matchup
Game 60: TBD vs. Zack Wheeler (4-4, 4.33 ERA)
Wheeler, who currently resides in the top 20 on the fWAR rankings for pitchers, is the toughest of the three pitchers the Tigers face this weekend. The 33-year-old has mowed down the opposition in his fourth season with the Phillies — just one year separated from his All-Star season in 2021 which also included Cy Young and MVP votes — exemplified in his tidy FIP. Take a look at his 2023 MLB Percentile Rankings per Baseball Savant below.
Series Outlook: Gotta stop the bleeding
The Tigers have lost two-straight series since taking three of four at home against the ChiSox, sending them tumbling down the standings of the already pathetic AL Central standings. It is hard to project results without knowing who Detroit’s starting pitchers will be, but one has to believe at least one game is winnable. Or with this dark cloud hanging over the D, maybe not. Just pray that nobody else gets hurt.