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Series Preview: Tigers host Cleveland Guardians for final series of regular season

Detroit wraps up the 2023 campaign with a home trio against their AL Central rivals.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Tigers fans, the end of the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season is nearly nigh as the Tigers wrap up yet another campaign without a postseason appearance. But at least the Motor City Kitties put the pedal to the metal over the final stretch of games to make things interesting as the month of September wanes.

Coming into the final weekend, AJ Hinch’s squad has won nine of their last 13 games — including a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals this week. While the team remains well out of contention for first place in the American League Central, the run allowed the Tigers to catch up with their final opponent of the season for second place in the division.

The Cleveland Guardians arrive in Detroit limping toward the finish line having won just four of their last 10 games, putting them a game behind the Tigers. All the home team needs to do is win one of the next three to seal the deal on second place by virtue of winning the season series against Cleveland.

Take a look below at the matchups for the final three games of the 2023 campaign.

Detroit Tigers (76-83) vs. Cleveland Guardians (75-84)

Times (EDT): Friday: 6:40 p.m.; Saturday: 1:10 p.m.; Sunday: 3:10 p.m.
Place: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
SB Nation Site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Game 160 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Wentz 103.1 20.3 9.3 5.57 -0.3
Quantrill 94.2 13.1 8.1 4.74 0.8

Game 160: LHP Joey Wentz (3-12, 6.45 ERA) vs. RHP Cal Quantrill (3-7, 5.13 ERA)

Wentz wraps up a disappointing season on Friday night, making his 18th start (out of 24 total appearances) of his somber sophomore campaign in the opening game. The 25-year-old saw the Guardians twice this summer prior, with both outings being among his better ones. On May 8, he tossed 5 23 frames of two-run ball for the win while hurling five frames of scoreless ball on Aug. 18 in a no-decision loss.

Quantrill also had a rough go at it this summer, putting up his worst numbers since his rookie season in 2019. The 28-year-old saw the Tigers once this season way back on April 19 when he earned a quality start by throwing six innings of shutout ball for the win. The right-hander is finishing the season strong, putting up a 1.95 ERA (but a 4.38 FIP) over 27 23 September innings.

Game 161 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
TBD - - - - -
McKenzie 11.2 27.8 18.5 4.37 0.2

Game 161: TBD vs. RHP Triston McKenzie (0-2, 6.17 ERA)

McKenzie is another pitcher whose 2023 season did not go the way that they would have liked. After getting a late start, the 26-year-old started just two games before being put on the injured list with a sprained right elbow. The right-hander has made one start since returning but only lasted 1 23 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, giving up three runs on a hit and six walks while striking out nobody.

Game 162 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Rodriguez 145.2 23.2 7.9 3.64 2.9
Giolito 179.1 26.0 9.0 5.23 1.0

Game 162: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (12-9, 3.40 ERA) vs. RHP Lucas Giolito (8-14, 4.77 ERA)

Rodriguez, on the other hand, is wrapping up a fine campaign for Detroit that saw some hurdles as well. The 30-year-old is in line to record his career-best in ERA, FIP and WHIP despite faltering following a minor injury, proving to be a solid top-of-the-rotation contributor who helped the Tigers weather some rough stretches. The left-hander dominated the Guardians in the three games he faced them this year, notching a quality start in all three while allowing just one run in 21 23 innings.

Giolito will be the final opposing starter against the Tigers this year as he takes the mound on Sunday to wrap things up. The 29-year-old had an adventurous summer, first getting traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Angels, the latter of whom subsequently put him on waivers a little more than a month later. Cleveland then snatched him up, and since arriving in the River Fire City, the right-hander has amassed a 6.66 ERA and 6.99 FIP over five games stretching across 25 23 innings.

Series Outlook: The battle for second place

As mentioned in the introduction, the Tigers enter this weekend’s matchup with the upper hand in the standings and by virtue of winning the season series against Cleveland own the tie-breaker. None of the Guardians’ starters strike much fear in the hearts of opposing batters while Detroit will have at least one of its top hurlers on the mound. Look for the Olde English D to prevail and finish things off in second place... of the worst division in baseball.