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Series Preview: Detroit Tigers host Tampa Bay Rays for 3-game weekend set

The Tigers welcome the Rays to Comerica Park on Friday night for a three-game tangle.

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers return home on Friday following a short road trip that saw them drop two of three at the Miami Marlins followed by a split with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now with that short interleague jaunt in the books, the Motor City Kitties prepare to face the team that swept them out of the season-opening series in the friendly confines of Comerica Park.

The Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for the three-game weekend set to close out the season series between the two American League foes. The Rays arrive sitting in second place in the AL East division standings just two games back of the Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay has cooled off significantly since the Tigers saw them back in April when Kevin Cash’s squad got off to a near-historic start to the schedule.

Meanwhile, the Tigers continue to meander below mediocrity, currently in third place in the AL Central and seven games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins. After a disappointing trade deadline and a division title well out of reach, Detroit is playing for the pride of the Olde English D at this point.

Take a look below at the pitching matchups lined up for the coming weekend, with one Tigers pitcher still to be determined. Also, note that Friday night’s game will be broadcast on (puke) Apple TV.

Detroit Tigers (48-60) vs Tampa Bay Rays (66-45)

Times (EDT): Friday: 6:40 p.m.; Saturday: 1:10 p.m.; Sunday: 1:40 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: DRaysBay
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network, Apple TV

Game 109 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 49.2 22.9 4.9 4.08 0.6
Littell 29.2 27.7 3.8 3.51 0.4

Game 109: RHP Reese Olson (1-4, 4.71 ERA) vs. RHP Zack Littell (1-2, 4.85 ERA)

Olson makes his ninth start on Friday in a rookie campaign that has also included a trio of relief appearances. The 24-year-old’s numbers have not looked great since returning to the rotation, however, logging a 6.06 ERA and a 5.35 FIP in 16 13 innings that stretched over three starts, allowing 21 hits (four home runs) but just two walks while striking out 12. A bad case of homeritis has inflated his numbers, but given that his team lost all three efforts, he will need to get back on track soon.

Littell, now in his sixth season of big-league action, has had mostly a bullpen role this summer, and when he has started games, it was as an opener. However, it appears that the 27-year-old is getting stretched out for a more traditional starting rotation spot. In his most recent game against the Houston Astros, the right-hander got the start and lasted five innings — a season high — allowing a pair of runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out four for the win.

Game 110 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 21.2 32.1 3.6 1.33 1.0
Civale 77.0 19.0 7.2 3.54 1.6

Game 110: LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 4.57 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Civale (5-2, 2.34 ERA)

Skubal continues his triumphant return from injury putting up some impressive peripherals albeit in a relatively small sample. Still, the 26-year-old has some work to do to get back to where he was prior to his flexor tendon surgery as his last outing indicates. The left-hander was hit hard in Miami, allowing four runs on six hits and no walks while striking out four over 4 23 innings earning a no-decision in the team loss.

Civale takes the mound on Saturday for the first time in his major league career with a team that is not the Cleveland Guardians. The Rays landed the 28-year-old ahead of the trade deadline in exchange for first baseman Kyle Manzardo, giving Tampa Bay a controlled starter until 2025 in the exchange. In 13 starts this season, the five-year veteran is striking out fewer and walking more batters while allowing harder average contact than he did in 2022 despite the shiny traditional stats.

Game 111 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
TBD - - - - -
Glasnow 68.2 34.5 7.9 3.18 1.6

Game 111: TBD vs. RHP Tyler Glasnow (5-3, 3.15 ERA)

Glasnow, now in his eighth MLB campaign, takes the bump on Sunday to wrap the series up. The 29-year-old is in the midst of yet another fine campaign despite being hampered at the outset by an oblique injury that kept him out for two months. Nonetheless, the veteran hurler returned strong, earning American League Pitcher of the Month recognition for July. Four of his six appearances resulted in quality starts while putting up a 2.11 ERA and 2.69 FIP over 38 13 innings, allowing 26 hits (four home runs) and eight walks while striking out 51 and hitting a batter.

Series Outlook: Time for revenge

The Rays are a tough team but they have softened up a bit since they walloped the Tigers in Tampa. The long story short here is that Detroit is playing for pride — and heck, why not revenge while they are at it — so with some of the pitching matchups actually favoring the Motor City Kitties it is not unfathomable that the home team earns the series win this weekend.