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Series Preview: Detroit travels to take on Chicago White Sox for 3-game set

The Tigers have been in a free-fall lately but hopefully a trio of games against a bad ChiSox team can correct that.

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers have struggled since taking three of four from the Cleveland Guardians in mid-August, dropping their last three series along with seven of their last 10 games. Now 14 games under .500 and nine games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins — who are weakly pulling away in the American League Central division — as the calendar flips to September.

The three series losses all came at home against the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and New York Yankees, respectively, with the latter being a four-game series defeat. Any hopes of making a surprise run in the division were squashed by the stretch, leaving the Motor City Kitties with little to play for but pride.

Next up on the docket is fellow ALC rivals the Chicago White Sox, who have been even worse than Detroit this summer despite entering the season with high expectations. The ChiSox have lost six of their last 10 and currently sit 16 games out of first in MLB’s worst division.

Can the Tigers correct their course against a struggling franchise on the road? Take a look at the matchups for this weekend’s series as the two tangle in the Windy City for a threesome of games.

Detroit Tigers (60-74) at Chicago White Sox (53-81)

Times (EDT): Friday: 8:10 p.m.; Saturday: 7:10 p.m.; Sunday: 2:10 p.m.
Place: Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, Illinois
SB Nation Site: South Side Sox
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 135 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 117.2 24.3 6.5 3.37 2.8
Toussaint 59.1 22.0 16.7 5.49 0.0

Game 135: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-7, 3.21 ERA) vs. RHP Touki Toussaint (2-6, 4.85 ERA)

Rodriguez had a bit of an up-and-down August, tossing three quality starts against a pair of duds for the month. The 30-year-old put up a 3.99 ERA and 4.01 FIP over 29 13 August innings, allowing 30 hits (three home runs) and 10 walks while striking out 25 and hitting a batter. The Tigers’ de facto ace is still on when he is on, but the hiccups have been hurting him as well.

Toussaint, on the other hand, struggled mightily last month, failing to go deeper than 5 13 innings in all five starts while surrendering at least four in four of them. The 27-year-old’s August numbers were embarrassing over that stretch, posting a 6.94 ERA along with a near-identical 6.95 FIP thanks to 23 hits (six home runs) and 21 walks surrendered over 23 13 innings, striking out 29 and hitting a batter.

Game 136 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Olson 72.1 25.2 7.7 4.08 0.9
Clevinger 97.2 20.8 9.3 4.34 1.7

Game 136: RHP Reese Olson (2-6, 5.10 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (6-6, 3.32 ERA)

Olson enters the final month of his rookie season having put together a perfectly cromulent campaign for the young newcomer. August, however, did not treat the 24-year-old well as he threw just one quality start in five tries, with the other four being less-than-optimal performances for the greenhorn hurler. Over 22 23 innings, he logged a 5.96 ERA but a much more respectable 4.10 FIP thanks to 22 hits allowed (three home runs) along with 14 walks but a robust 31 strikeouts.

The last time Clevinger faced Detroit back on June 2 he had one of his better outings of the season, holding the Tigers scoreless over five frames on three hits and a walk while striking out six. Since then, the 32-year-old has shown continuous improvement, amassing a 2.15 ERA and 3.64 FIP in nine games — including that one — allowing 35 hits (four home runs) and 16 walks while striking out 45 and hitting three batters over 50 13 innings.

Game 137 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 50.1 29.4 5.0 2.41 1.7
Kopech 124.0 22.8 15.1 6.42 -0.7

Game 137: LHP Tarik Skubal (3-3, 3.93 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Kopech (5-12, 5.08 ERA)

Skubal continues his triumphant return from elbow surgery as he amasses fWAR along with solid traditional and exceptional peripheral numbers. The 26-year-old appears to be building his strength back up as he got much deeper into games in August than in his opening month of July. After reaching the five-inning mark just once in July, the southpaw made it through six three out of five tries the following month, with the other two extending to 5 13 frames.

Kopech faced the Tigers once before on June 4, when he tossed a quality start to the tune of two earned runs on three hits (one home run) and a walk while striking out nine over seven innings for a no-decision in the team win. The 27-year-old has faltered down the stretch, cracking the five-inning mark once in five tries in August, putting up a 7.89 ERA and 7.05 FIP over 21 23 innings on 22 hits (four home runs) and 21 walks while striking out 18 and hitting a batter.

Series Outlook: No mercy for the White Sox

As I have mentioned before, the Tigers at this point are playing for pride and there are few things more satisfying than beating the hated ChiSox. The Southsiders are currently mired in troubles both on and off the field, and there is nothing wrong with kicking your rivals when they are down. A sweep of Chicago would wash the bad taste of the recent losses and get Detroit off to a strong start to the final month of the 2023 season.