The Detroit Tigers have to feel pretty good coming into the three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. After sweeping the White Sox, the Tigers are sitting nicely at .500 with the Sox ahead of them by half of a game.
In the AL East, the Blue Jays are 2.5 games back with a .534 winning percentage. While the Tigers have been winning at home (15-12), the Blue Jays have done better on the road. Their 17-13 road record could give the Tigers a run for the money.
I predicted that the Tigers would win two of the games against the ChiSox. Hopefully, the win against Chris Sale and the changes that have been made in the Tigers bullpen and rotation will keep the bats hot and the pitching on target.
The Blue Jays are not the same team they were in 2015. Even though they still have Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista, they have not been producing wins at the same clip they did last season.
In the first game, Michael Fulmer will face left-handed J.A. Happ. The 33-year-old pitcher has an ERA of 3.06 and a WHIP of 1.16. Right-handed batters have an average . 243 against him. The right-handed lineup in Detroit should fare well.
The Tigers who have hit well against him in previous games include Justin Upton, who has a .600 BA with one home run in five at-bats. James McCann has also had success against him, hitting .500 with a double. Ian Kinsler has the most at-bats against him and has a .300 BA hitting everything except a double off of Happ. The Tigers should get on base several times tonight.
In the second game, Matt Boyd will face Aaron Sanchez. The Tigers do not have much experience against him, which could prove to be problematic for the team. Sanchez has an ERA of 2.99 and a WHIP of 1.22. He is a right-handed pitcher who is only 23-years-old. Left-handed and right-handed batters have performed statistically the same against him. His April performances were better than his May performances. He did not allow any runs in the 7 innings he pitched in June against the Yankees.
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Prior to his time with Detroit, Boyd was a member of the Blue Jays along with Daniel Norris and Jairo Labourt. He arrived in Detroit when David Price was traded. The two young pitchers could make the game rather interesting on Tuesday.
In third game, Jordan Zimmermann will face R.A. Dickey. The 41-year-old knuckleballer has a 4.21 ERA in his 12 starts. As a team, the Tigers have hit well off of Dickey. Their combined batting average against him is .277, but the OPS is .845. Kinsler has faced him 19 times accumulating 8 hits and 3 home runs with a OPS of 1.371. Dickey has held Cabrera in check, leaving him with a .259 BA, but an .829 OPS. Dickey is not the same pitcher that he once was, so the Tigers bats should come alive Wednesday as they close out the series with a three-game sweep.
With the White Sox facing the Nationals and Kansas City facing the Orioles, if the Tigers get the wins they are expecting and their fellow AL Central teams get a few losses against these tough teams, the Tigers could find themselves out of the bottom of the Central. It is safe to say that Cleveland will stay at the top while they battle it out with the Mariners in Seattle.