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Series Preview: Tigers tangle with Oakland A’s in 4-game weekend set

After winning four of six in Los Angeles, Detroit now turns north to Oakland this weekend.

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers managed to take one out of three games this week against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium, avoiding the sweep and maintaining a winning record on their current 10-game west coast road swing. From here on out, it should be easy sailing for the Motor City Kitties.

Next up are the lowly Oakland Athletics, who have been mired in drama all summer and are the worst team in the majors. The A’s enter the series 5.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals, holding a firm hold on the major league cellar as the schedule wanes to its grande finale.

This is good news for AJ Hinch’s team, which is looking to finish off a season plagued with injuries on a high note. The key to the remainder of the schedule is to avoid any more mishaps while taking care of business against inferior opposition.

Oh, and Detroit is only a half-game behind the Cleveland Guardians for second place in the American League Central division. So there is that too.

Take a look below at the pitching matchups for the four-game weekend series in north California this weekend between the Tigers and Athletics. Note that each team has one pitcher “to be determined”.

Detroit Tigers (71-81) at Oakland Athletics (46-106)

Times (EDT): Thursday: 9:40 p.m.; Friday: 9:40 p.m.; Saturday: 4:07 p.m.; Sunday: 4:07 p.m.
Place: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California
SB Nation Site: Athletics Nation
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 153 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Skubal 69.1 30.7 4.7 2.28 2.6
Medina 98.2 21.7 11.8 4.96 0.2

Game 153: LHP Tarik Skubal (6-3, 3.25 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Medina (3-9, 5.56 ERA)

Skubal has unquestionably ascended to ace status for the Tigers’ rotation after his return from elbow surgery. The 26-year-old has had a sparkling September so far, putting up a 1.42 ERA and 1.94 FIP, allowing 10 hits (one home run) and three walks while striking out 25 over 19 innings. It does not get much better than that.

Medina is one of a few greenhorns getting starts in this game, and like one of his other teammates, has had a rough go at it this summer. The 24-year-old’s bloated ERA is in large part due to the amount of baserunners he has allowed, as represented by his 1.55 WHIP. He does have a beefy fastball, with both the four-seamer and sinker sitting around 96 mph — this appears to be his signature trait.

Game 154 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Gipson-Long 10.0 41.0 7.7 2.26 0.4
Waldichuk 130.0 20.6 11.5 5.34 -0.2

Game 154: RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (1-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. LHP Ken Waldichuk (3-8, 5.40 ERA)

Gipson-Long has been amazing so far for the Tigers just two starts into his nascent major league career. While the 25-year-old’s numbers are eye-popping, he has been limited to just five frames in both of his outings. That, however, has not stopped him from racking up the strikeouts as his current K rate is an absurd and unsustainable 41%. Or is it?

Waldichuk is a second-year hurler who has struggled immensely in his sophomore season. The 25-year-old has been plagued by baserunners judging by his bloated 1.51 WHIP and that has been exacerbated by his elevated home runs per nine (1.5) — a combination that usually has disastrous results. The Tigers should be able to capitalize on his weaknesses Friday night.

Game 155 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
TBD - - - - -
Boyle 3.0 33.3 16.7 2.59 0.1

Game 155: TBD vs. RHP Joe Boyle (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Boyle comes into the game much like Gipson-Long, in that he has looked impressive in very limited innings. The 24-year-old will be the second start of his career following a debut that lasted just three innings but remained scoreless on a hit and two walks while striking out four. The Tigers will put him to the test again on Saturday.

Game 156 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 138.2 23.5 7.6 3.65 2.8
TBD - - - - -

Game 156: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (11-9, 3.57 ERA) vs. TBD

Rodriguez is wrapping up what was a fine season for the southpaw, but he has faltered a bit down the stretch. Dating back to Aug. 13 when the Boston Red Sox shellacked him, the 30-year-old has put up a 5.79 ERA and 5.16 FIP over 37 13 innings and seven starts, amassing three wins and four losses along the way. The veteran has dealt with injuries this summer so it is not terribly surprising to see him wear down, but hopefully, he can hang on until the end.

Series Outlook: No reason not to sweep the A’s

The Tigers are not exactly world-beaters on the diamond but this Oakland team is nearly at historic levels of terrible. The pitching is bad, the offense is bad... the ownership is bad. The season is mercifully near its end for A’s fans but not before Detroit gets its punches in — look for the Olde English D to take advantage of the mismatch and get back to single digits under .500. In fact, if the Kitties can sweep the Los Angels Angels on the road, why not the A’s?