The Detroit Tigers were bested in a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics this week at Comerica Park, dropping two of three to the lowly American League West division cellar-dwellers in the penultimate set ahead of this year’s All-Star Game. All that remains between the Motor City Kitties and their midseason breather are the Toronto Blue Jays, who are in town for a trio of games this weekend.
The last time the two teams met was north of the border at the Rogers Center, where the Jays took two of three from the Tigers back in mid-April. Toronto has been puttering along in the toughest division in baseball, currently sitting eight games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and tied with the New York Yankees for third place. It is worth noting that the last-place team in that division, the Boston Red Sox, has the same record as the AL Central’s leader, the Minnesota Twins, at 45-43.
Take a look below at the starting pitchers for this weekend’s affair on the clay diamond as both teams look to close out the first half on a high note.
Detroit Tigers (38-48) vs Toronto Blue Jays (48-40)
Game 87 Pitching Matchup
Faedo makes his return on Friday night from an after discomfort in his right middle finger that kept him out of service since May 30. The 27-year-old was just starting to get things figured out before getting spanked in his fifth start against the Texas Rangers, surrendering six runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four over 4 1⁄3 frames. If you Porcello out that game, his numbers look a lot tidier, but still, the Tigers need a lot more innings out of him than they have received so far.
Manoah has struggled significantly this season, finding himself back in the minors due to persistent struggles in his third major league season. The 25-year-old struck out 10 in five innings of one-run ball for Double-A New Hampshire on Sunday night, which apparently was enough to earn a ticket back to Toronto. The last time he saw the Tigers, however, his team won but it was despite his performance, surrendering a trio of runs on four hits (one home run) and five walks while striking out three over 4 1⁄3 innings.
Game 88 Pitching Matchup
Manning makes his third start on Saturday after returning from a broken toe sustained back in mid-April, and for all intents and purposes, the 25-year-old has picked up where he left off. The former first-round draft pick faced the Jays earlier this year on April 11 — when he broke his toe — allowing four runs on six hits (three of which were home runs) and a walk while striking out three over six innings, giving him his first loss of the 2023 campaign.
Gausman has been spectacular so far in his 11th major league season, currently leading MLB in fWAR as he anchors the Jays’ rotation. The 32-year-old, who has earned Cy Young votes the past two summers, also leads the majors in ERA while sitting at the top of the American League in games started (18) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.0). The veteran is easily the toughest matchup for the Tigers this weekend.
Game 89 Pitching Matchup
Skubal gets his second start on Sunday after his triumphant return from flexor tendon surgery last week against Oakland. Unfortunately, despite tossing four frames of scoreless, no-hit ball, Detroit took the 1-0 loss in extra innings as the bullpen simply ran out of juice in the end. The 26-year-old looked very sharp despite the long layoff — not to mention, a subpar opponent as well — and that should carry over to this weekend.
Bassitt takes the mound opposite of Skubal in the final game before the break as the grizzled veteran continues to grind away. The 34-year-old, much like his teammate, is tied for the league lead in games started while also leading the majors in hit-by-pitches. The last time he saw Detroit back in April, he took the loss after surrendering two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out seven over six innings.
Series Outlook: Gotta end the first half on a high note
The Tigers missed out on a grand opportunity to move up in the win column against the A’s this week but can make up for it by taking two of three from the Jays this weekend. Two of the pitching matchups actually bode well for the Olde English D but the bats need to show up. Detroit is still ranked No. 28 in the majors in OPS (.670) and batting average (.231) while Toronto ranks tenth (.745) and fifth (.262), respectively; the Tigers are ranked 22nd in team ERA (4.46) while the Jays are ninth (3.90).