After an embarrassing 13-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in the series finale on Thursday, along with a 15-3 loss to Kansas City earlier in the six-game homestand, the Detroit Tigers are clearly looking for a fresh start as the team now hits the road.
The Detroit Tigers will now look to face the Minnesota Twins for a four-game weekend series. The series was originally scheduled as a three-game set, but Saturday will feature a doubleheader due to a snowed-out game on Apr. 12.
Following a disappointing homestand that saw the Tigers drop four out of six games, it wouldn’t surprise many to see an increased level of urgency from Detroit with a division foe in the opposite dugout. Here are three players to watch this weekend in Minneapolis:
Detroit Tigers- Christin Stewart
After being absent from the lineup since mid-April, slugging outfielder Christin Stewart will have the opportunity to play his first full series since suffering a right quad strain against the Chicago White Sox.
Stewart had the opportunity to return to action during Thursday’s series finale, flying out to center field as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of a 13-0 loss. He returned to the team a day earlier than expected, as starting shortstop Jordy Mercer hit the injured list on Wednesday night.
The 25-year-old left fielder played six games on his rehab assignment with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, hitting .350 with a home run and five RBI. Before going down with an injury, Stewart was the lone bright spot in an otherwise struggling Tigers offense with three home runs and 13 RBI.
Detroit Tigers- Gregory Soto
One of the Tigers prized starting pitching prospects, 24-year-old left-hander Gregory Soto, will be called up from Double-A Erie on Saturday to start a game of the day’s doubleheader as the 26th man.
While he isn’t on the level of a Casey Mize or Matt Manning, Soto sits as the Tigers No. 26 prospect after a steady rise through the minors after being signed as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic.
Soto, the Tigers minor-league pitcher of the year in 2017, as only thrown 13.1 innings above A-ball, owns a 3.36 ERA and a 31-23 record across seven minor-league seasons. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Soto has struggled with control issues but maintains his status as a power pitcher with 491 strikeouts in 453 innings.
Detroit Tigers- Ronny Rodriguez
Oft-injured shortstop Jordy Mercer went down with another right quad strain prior to Thursday’s game, meaning the Tigers will once again search for an interim replacement amongst the backup infielders.
The leading candidate to replace Mercer for the bulk of his absence will be Ronny Rodriguez, the Tigers hottest hitter of late. The 27-year-old Rodriguez has hit three home runs and driven in 12 while hitting .321 in 15 games this season.
Rodriguez, who’s hitting a whopping .370 over the last seven games overall, has played six games at shortstop and six at second base this season. The versatile defender has also seen time at first base and in the outfield during his career, but he’ll be primarily relied upon at shortstop until Mercer returns.
First pitch to start the series is set for 8:10 pm Friday night from Target Field in Minnesota.