Detroit Tigers: Four players to watch in San Diego Padres series
Detroit Tigers baseball returns on Friday. The team will look to rebound from a series sweep in Seattle when the team faces the San Diego Padres on the road. Here are four players to watch.
Detroit Tigers fans will be hoping the team can get back to their winning ways on Friday night.
The Tigers will open up a three-game set against a San Diego Padres team that enters Friday with the Majors’ third-worst record (29-44) and worst run differential (-117).
Meanwhile, Detroit enters the series with a 32-40 record and a -19 run differential. As it stands, Brad Ausmus’ team is in the American League Central cellar, 7.5 games back of Cleveland.
With wins very much needed at this point, the Tigers will look to get back on track against the National League West franchise.
One player who could be in line for a strong series is second baseman Ian Kinsler.
The veteran second baseman has been the victim of a .200 BABIP over the last week, but that hasn’t stopped him from tearing the cover off the ball.
In 32 plate appearances, the leadoff hitter is batting .286 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .786 slugging percentage.
Kinsler has also notched four home runs, five runs scored, seven RBI, three stolen bases in the same span.
In 27 lifetime plate appearances at San Diego’s Petco Park, the 34-year-old is a .292 hitter with a .745 OPS. He’s also collected four runs scored, three stolen bases, a pair of doubles and an RBI at the Padres’ home park.
In addition to Kinsler, here are three other Detroit Tigers players to watch in San Diego.
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Like Kinsler, Upton has produced some encouraging numbers as of late.
The former Padre has racked up a team-high nine RBI in the past week, hitting .333 with a .357 on-base percentage and a .519 slugging percentage in 28 plate appearances.
His production has been welcomed as the Tigers lineup has had to adjust somewhat without Victor Martinez.
Upton previously played for San Diego in 2015, hitting .251 with a .790 OPS, a 3.5 WAR, a .203 ISO and a 119 wRC+.
He hit .277 with a .866 OPS, 48 runs scored, 42 RBI, 15 home runs, 15 doubles, nine stolen bases and a triple in 309 plate appearances at Petco Park that year.
All told, he has 25 home runs and a .879 OPS in 123 career games in San Diego.
Saupold hasn’t allowed a run in his last four appearances, totaling 4.2 innings of work.
The former starter and often-used long reliever could conceivably see more work late in games in shorter stints if the rest of Detroit’s bullpen continues to falter.
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Considering Shane Greene and Justin Wilson are the only Tigers relievers with FIP numbers under 4.00, Saupold could pitch in higher-leverage situations.
The veteran didn’t pitch poorly in his return to the team, a five inning start in Seattle earlier in the week. In fact, Sanchez was quite solid.
All told, he struck out five while scattering five hits, three walks and two runs over five frames. Sanchez also induced five ground balls and three pop ups while surrendering only two line drives.
He’ll look to continue to pitch effectively in San Diego, where he’ll be matched up with rookie Dinelson Lamet on Saturday night.
The fact that Sanchez will get to see the pitcher’s spot in the lineup come up a few times should only help.
In his career, the starter has a 4.06 ERA in 188.1 interleague innings. He’s posted a 3.09 ERA against the Padres in 23.1 lifetime.
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Sanchez has pitched at Petco Park once before, allowing six hits, three runs and two walks in five frames of work. He struck out three on the day.