Making the transition from a two-game series to a five-game series and from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, the Tigers look to rebound off a rocky 8-5 loss on Wednesday night.
Some familiar foes on the Twins pitching staff seek redemption against the Tigers after getting trounced last weekend. Randy Dobnak and Kenta Maeda will again face the hot Tigers lineup, hoping for a vastly different result in a vastly different series.
At this time last week, the Tigers sat 5.5 games back of the division-leading Twins. Now the margin between the two ball clubs has shrunk to just three games.
While that number may not seem much more significant, catching their division rivals is now in reach.
If Detroit can somehow snag four out of five this weekend, Minnesota would be the new team in the rearview mirror.
Let’s check out the opposing pitchers on the mound for this weekend:
9/4 - Matthew Boyd (1-4, 7.27) vs. Randy Dobnak (5-2, 3.12)
9/4 (Game 2) - TBA vs. TBA
9/5 - Tarik Skubal (1-1, 6.75) vs. Kenta Maeda (4-1, 2.53)
9/6 - Casey Mize (0-1, 6.75) vs. Rich Hill (1-1, 3.94)
I already dove into Dobnak, Maeda, and Hill in one of my previous articles that you can check out here. For a brief recap, Dobnak and Maeda are superb ground ball pitchers who rarely allow hard contact with really impressive ERAs this season.
However, the Tigers got to both starters, who each allowed their season-high in hits.
Rich Hill was supposed to pitch in the last series, but postponements pushed him out. Hill doesn’t differ much from the other two, another low velocity, high ground ball rate kind of guy.
The 2nd start of the doubleheader on Friday will likely again be a bullpen/opener game for the Twins where Matt Wisler should get the call.
9/7 - Michael Fulmer (0-0, 7.27) vs. Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00)
A battle of the Michaels will finish up the series, both looking to overcome an injured past.
Pineda’s injury list over the last decade is longer than your receipt at CVS. Six times he hit the disabled list from 2009-2017 for injuries involving his rotator cuff, shoulder muscle, and upper back, and forearm muscle.
He spent his entire 2018 season rehabbing after a right UCL injury that began the year before. He hit the IL in May of 2019 with right knee tendinitis, hit the IL again in August with a right triceps strain, and to top it all off, in late September, he received a 60-game suspension for an illegal weight management medication. Got all that?
Well, Pineda finally made his first start this year on September 1st and performed relatively well.
Pineda threw six solid innings against the White Sox, gave up six hits and just two runs. Aside from injuries, Pineda’s career ERA of 4.03 and whip of 1.18 stacks up strongly with the rest of the MLB.
Pineda’s arsenal includes just three pitches, a fastball, slider, and changeup. His well-balanced ground ball, fly ball, and line-drive rates are a plus, as well as his expertise is getting batters to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone.
All in all, Pineda is a valuable number five starter to have, especially when you’re a team that has to play seven games in just five days.
Overall, the pitching staff of the Twins is one of the league’s best.
It seems as if the budding Tigers lineup wouldn’t stand a chance against most of these guys on paper; however, that wasn’t the case last weekend.
They attacked Dobnak and Maeda early in the count and took advantage of good pitches to hit.
Detroit also gets the benefit of missing Jose Berrios in the series, another valuable young pitcher on the staff. We’ve seen the Tigers overcome the odds for much of this season, why not another series?
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