Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Previewing the Toronto Blue Jays

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 25: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays is greeted at home plate by Curtis Granderson #18 after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Blue Jays won 6-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 25: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays is greeted at home plate by Curtis Granderson #18 after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Blue Jays won 6-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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The 26-30 Detroit Tigers will host the 25-31 Toronto Blue Jays for a three game set, starting Friday at 7:10 EST.

The Detroit Tigers cemented themselves in second place in the AL Central after taking three out of four from the Los Angeles Angels. Now, they get to face the fourth place Toronto Blue Jays at home for a short weekend series. Here are the probable pitching matchups for this upcoming series:

Friday, June 1 (7:10) Blaine Hardy vs. Jaime Garcia

Saturday, June 2 (4:10) Matthew Boyd vs. J.A. Happ

Sunday, June 3 (1:10) Aaron Sanchez vs. Michael Fulmer

Two lefty on lefty battles and then a battle of underperforming right-handed studs on Sunday. Hardy will be making his fourth start of the season, filling in for Jordan Zimmermann. He’ll oppose Jaime Garcia, who came off the DL to toss seven innings of one run ball against the Phillies last week. The Tigers will look to cool off the veteran, who has a 5.52 ERA on the year.

J.A. Happ squares off against former Blue Jays prospect Matthew Boyd, whom the Tigers acquired in the David Price trade a few summers ago. Boyd is having an All-Star season, pitching to a 3.00 ERA. Happ has a 3.84 ERA and a 7-3 record on the year, with six quality starts. He will be a tough one to crack.

Finally, we get Aaron Sanchez vs. Michael Fulmer. Fulmer was absolutely crushed his last time out, and will look to rebound against Sanchez and the Blue Jays on Sunday. Sanchez has similar numbers, with a 2-4 record and a 4.77 ERA on the year. On paper, this looks like the best pitching matchup. But in reality this could be a hit fest if these two pitchers can’t rebound from shaky months of May.

What to Watch out For

Here are a few things to keep an eye on in this weekend series:

The return of Miggy

Miguel Cabrera is expected to run bases, take batting practice and take ground balls on Friday. Assuming he feels good after that, he is expected to be activated from the disabled list and reinstated into the starting lineup at first base. Having Miggy and his .323/.407/.516 line back in the fold will be a huge boost for the Tigers.

The big question will be what happens to John Hicks. Hicks has hit well in Miggy’s absence, with a .278 batting average and five home runs on the year. With Grayson Greiner getting send down to Triple-A, it looks like Hicks will resume his previous role as backup catcher. He may occasionally steal some starts at DH or at first when Miggy needs a day off or a DH day.

The Grandy-Man Back at Comerica

Former Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson will make his first appearance at Comerica Park in 2018 this weekend. Don’t expect to see him in center field however, as Grandy has been playing primarily left field for the Blue Jays. The left-hander is slashing .234/.372/.406 with four home runs and a 118 wRC+ this year. He is boasting a career high 16.7% walk rate and is having a nice bounce back after an ugly 2017 season.

Granderson was of course a member of Detroit’s famous 2006 team and is one of the Detroit Tigers greatest players of the last few decades.

Remember Devon Travis?

On November 13, 2014 the Detroit Tigers famously traded second base prospect Devon Travis to the Toronto Blue Jays for center fielder Anthony Gose. The trade was labeled a disaster almost immediately, which was fueled by Travis slashing .301/.342/.469 across his first two seasons in Toronto. At 25 and with 5.4 bWAR under his belt, Travis was destined for super stardom.

Meanwhile, Anthony Gose slashed an ugly .247/.315/.363 in his two years in Detroit. A bad attitude kept him away from Detroit for most of 2016, and by 2017 he had transitioned to becoming a left-handed reliever. He posted an ugly 7.59 ERA in 10 2/3 innings at High-A before going to Texas. He’s only thrown four innings in 2018 with Texas’ High-A team.

The trade may have been a bust, but Travis has fallen quite a ways since his hot start. He hit just .259 in 2017, and an egregious start to the season this year had him sent down to Triple-A. He’s back now and has hit well the last few days, but is still hitting just .188 in 25 games. Expect him to start over the weekend at second base for Toronto. As painful as that trade may seem, it’s worth pointing out that Dixon Machado is actually outperforming Travis this season.

Next: Which Tiger(s) will make the All-Star Game?

The Detroit Tigers currently hold a 1.5 game lead on the Minnesota Twins for second place in the AL Central. Perhaps the Rally Goose will help them to a sweep of the Blue Jays this weekend, as they inch closer to the first place Indians.

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