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Detroit Tigers: Four players to watch in series vs Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 14: Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning during inter-league play against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 14, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 14: Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning during inter-league play against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 14, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers players will look to start a new winning streak on Monday as the team begins a four-game stretch against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here are four players to watch.

Detroit Tigers fans will see the team travel to Pittsburgh for what is the start of essentially a home-and-home series between the two franchises.

The Tigers will play two in Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday before the Pirates return the favor and play a pair in the Motor City on Wednesday and Thursday.

So far this season, Detroit is just 4-6 against the National League after going 13-7 last season.

Detroit and Pittsburgh played a similar four-game stretch in early in 2016, with the teams splitting two games at Comerica Park before the Tigers took two games on the road.

Those were the only games played between the two teams in the last two seasons.

Here are four players to watch when the Detroit Tigers take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jordan Zimmermann

Zimmermann has been excellent as of late, with just 12 hits, three runs and a home run allowed over his last two starts.

Those starts have spanned 14 innings and have also included eight punch outs.

Now, Zimmermann returns to a National League ballpark, where he’ll get to face the pitcher’s spot in the order a handful of times.

The veteran has allowed just four runs in 12 career innings at PNC Park.

Related Story: Next wave of reinforcements coming from Triple-A Toledo

Nicholas Castellanos

Outside of a home run that was Castellanos’ 500th career hit, the series in Baltimore was largely uneventful for the third baseman.

However, a matchup with Pittsburgh could help him right the ship somewhat.

In 51 career plate appearances against the National League Central franchise, Castellanos is hitting .373 with a .980 OPS. He also tacked on 10 RBI, five runs scored, three home runs, a double and a triple.

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Justin Upton

Upton has been on a tear lately. Entering Sunday he was hitting .367 with a .967 slugging percentage, 16 RBI, seven runs scored, five home runs and three doubles in his last 30 plate appearances.

He’ll now face Pittsburgh, a team he’s had plenty of success against in the past.

In 221 lifetime plate appearances, Upton is batting .283 with a .376 on-base percentage, a .461 slugging percentage and an .836 OPS. He’s also added 30 runs scored, 21 RBI, eight home runs, six doubles, six stolen bases and a pair of triples.

Mikie Mahtook

Since June 2, Mikie Mahtook is hitting .324 with a .379 on-base percentage, a .497 slugging percentage, an .876 OPS, a .372 wOBA and a 134 wRC+.

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He’s never faced the Pirates, and has faced just one of the team’s pitchers (former Detroit Tigers reliever Juaquin Benoit, who Mahtook is 0-for-1 against). Still, with the run of form he’s been on, Mahtook seems like a strong candidate to keep the ball rolling.

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