Detroit Tigers: Previewing the Chicago White Sox

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 3: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox is congratulated by Adam Engel #15 after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on April 3, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 3: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox is congratulated by Adam Engel #15 after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on April 3, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers open up a three-game set on the road against the rebuilding Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

A rainout cost the Detroit Tigers yet another game on Wednesday. Now, the boys will head out to Chicago for three games against the other rebuilding team in the AL Central, the White Sox. The tentative pitching matchups are as follows:

Thursday: Jordan Zimmermann vs. James Shields (Chicago’s home opener)

Saturday: Michael Fulmer vs. Lucas Giolito

Sunday: Mike Fiers vs. Reynaldo Lopez

Thursday’s contest will feature a solid matchup of veteran right-handers who have had a lot of big league success, but have struggled in recent years. Zimmermann is coming off an eight strikeout season debut. Meanwhile, Shields allowed the first four batters he faced this season to reach base and eventually score. He settled in after that, but this could be an offensive bout in Chicago’s home opener.

Saturday’s game will be the most exciting from a pitching perspective, as two of the best young arms in the American League square off in Fulmer and Giolito. Fulmer was masterful in his first start of the year. Giolito was not quite as good, but still posted a quality start. This should be a fun one.

Sunday’s pitching matchup will likely feature Mike Fiers making his Tigers debut. Fiers began the season the DL but should be activated in time for Sunday’s start. The veteran had a rough spring and will need to show some success if he wants to fend off Daniel Norris for a rotation spot. He’ll face off against another high profile right-hander in Reynaldo Lopez, who looked dominant in his first start against the Blue Jays this season.

Previewing the White Sox Lineup

The White Sox start off with superstar prospect Yoan Moncada (2B) who has yet to live up to expectations in the major leagues. Moncada went deep against the Royals in game two but is hitting .176 so far on the year.

Former Tiger and 2017 breakout Avisail Garcia bats second for the Sox. Coming off a year where he posted a .380 OBP and hit 18 home runs, Garcia may just be reaching his prime.

Chicago’s three and four hitters are a pair of sluggers in Jose Abreu and Matt Davidson. Abreu has been one of baseball’s most consistent 30 home run threats, while Davidson got the MLB’s attention by hitting three out on Opening Day. He was the first player to do so since Dmitri Young did it for the Tigers back in 2005. The Tigers will have their hands full with these two.

Chicago’s other regulars include catcher Welington Castillo and shortstop Tim Anderson. Both are solid big leaguers, with Castillo hitting 20 home runs last season and Anderson hitting 17 with 15 stolen bases. Anderson is well-known by Tigers fans, having broken up Matthew Boyd‘s no-hitter in the ninth inning last year.

Adam Engel is Chicago’s speedy centerfielder, although he offers little else. Some combination of Nicky Delmonico, Yolmer Sanchez, Tyler Saladino and Leury Garcia will round out the lineup at third base and left field.

While the team is rebuilding and could compete with Detroit for last place in the AL Central, there is a lot of oomph in this batting lineup. Tigers pitchers will need to keep the ball down in the zone to avoid serving up home runs up and down this lineup.

What to Expect

More cold weather. It may rain on Thursday but looks like it will at least be somewhat sunny Saturday and Sunday. But unsurprisingly, it’s cold in Chicago in April.

Otherwise, I’d expect to see a fair amount of offense as the bats start coming around for each team. Fulmer and Giolito should do a good job of keeping offenses in check, but the bookend games could feature plenty of runs on the board.

Things to look out for

Can Jordan Zimmermann maintain his strikeout stuff?

His eight K’s in the first game were a pleasant surprise, but Zimm’s strikeout stuff has been down since he got to Detroit. If he can find a way to bring his strikeout numbers back to where they were in Washington, he could finally start to make good on his contract.

Can Detroit’s bullpen reel it in?

This will be a theme all year, as Detroit’s bullpen is shaky, to say the least. A series against the White Sox will be another test for them, as they have plenty of power up and down their lineup. If certain guys (Farmer, VerHagen) don’t start performing, they could give way to the plethora of options (Hardy, Bell, Lewicki) in the minor leagues.

Next: Tigers Minor League Preview

This is the first battle of the rebuilding clubs in the AL Central. While the White Sox have a better farm system, the Tigers should be able to compete with them in 2018.