The Detroit Tigers travel to the Steel City on Tuesday and Wednesday to complete the Pittsburgh half of their 2019 series with the Pirates in a battle between two of the most blue-collar cities in America.
Neither the Pittsburgh Pirates nor Detroit Tigers are having the best seasons of their respective franchises, so this series could go either way considering the pitching matchups. The Pirates come into the series at 32-39 while the Tigers enter Tuesday at 25-43.
The Pirates have the higher team batting average at .261 compared to Detroit’s .229 and score more runs, with 315 to Detroit’s MLB-low 239 runs. However, the Tigers have been better than the on the mound this season, with a 4.88 ERA to Pittsburgh’s 5.12.
In game one, Daniel Norris looks to get back on track for the Detroit Tigers as he faces off against the Pirates #1 prospect in RHP Mitch Keller. Keller has pitched a total of 7 innings over 2 starts this season, making his MLB debut on May 27th against the Cincinnati Reds. He hasn’t impressed in his small sample, pitching to a 15.43 ERA, albeit his 11.6 K/9 ratio. The Tigers will look to heat up the bats when facing the rookie as he has not done particularly well against both left-handed and right-handed bats.
Wednesday presents an intriguing pitcher’s duel between Trevor Williams and Matthew Boyd. Williams sports a 3.33 ERA through 54 innings and Matthew Boyd, as we know, has pitched to a 3.35 ERA this season and has been a bright spot in a rather dull season for the Tigers. Williams pitched in Detroit on April 1th7, contributing 6 innings while giving up 2 runs in the 3-2 Pittsburgh win.
Lefties Daniel Norris and Matthew Boyd will take on a Pittsburgh lineup that ranks 8th in the MLB in batting average as of Monday night. They will have the advantage of pitching against a few left-handed bats in Gregory Polanco, Colin Moran, and Adam Frazier. They’ll also try to cool off “NL MVP Frontrunner” (I mean, if we exclude Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich, right?) Josh Bell’s bat.
The switch hitter has slashed .321/.388/.653 with 19 home runs while leading the NL in extra-base hits (49) and RBIs (65). He will be hitting right-handed for the better part of both games as he faces two lefties, where he has been a little more down to earth at the plate, hitting .270/.324/.540 with 5 homers in 71 PA as a righty. Bell has been fantastic this season and, excuse my sarcasm in the previous paragraph if he keeps his pace he really could contend for the NL MVP Award.
Again, this is could be a competitive series because of who is on the mound. Detroit is putting up two solid left-handers, including ace Matthew Boyd, versus the Pirates top prospect in Keller and perhaps their best pitcher in Trevor Williams. As always, it will most likely be a matter of if the Tigers can get the bats going, which has been the story all season. The pitching has kept us in games, but the hitting has been awful. If they can heat up the bats, this will be a good series. If not, we could be swept for the second straight time.