With the first series of the 2021 Detroit Tigers season in the books and Akil Baddoo mania running wild, successfully with a series win over the Cleveland Indians, we move on to another 3 games divisional rival set against Minnesota Twins. Here a brief preview to get you ready:
Detroit Tigers vs Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park:
All Games on Fox Sports Detroit and 97.1 FM. Tickets available on Tigers.com
Monday, April 5th, 1:10 PM:
A pair of free-agent acquisitions take the mound as Wyandotte native Matt Shoemaker makes his Minnesota Twins debut against Jose Urena for the Detroit Tigers. Both pitchers will be looking to improve upon mediocre 2020 performances with their new teams. Shoemaker tosses just 28.2 innings before shoulder inflammation ended a season in which he managed to give up 8 Home Runs in quick order. Jose Urena is one of Al Avila’s prized free-agent acquisitions having signed a 1-year deal for 3.5 million dollars after a less than impressive season with the Miami Marlins: 0-3 record with a 5.40 ERA in just 5 starts totaling 23.1 innings. Not a big strikeout pitcher, Urena will rely on his 95 MPH sinker and 4 seam fastball to go along with a slider trying to induce weak contact.
Tuesday, April 6th, 1:10 PM:
It’s old against new as JA Happ will face off against Casey Mize in the middle game of the series. Happ signed with the Twins this offseason after a solid 2020 campaign with the New York Yankees. While his K/9 seems to be in decline since his 2018 All-Star season with the Toronto Blue Jays (9.8 to 7.7) his hits per 9 also declined (7.6 to 6.8). The crafty veteran loves his 4 seamers at the top of the zone. Casey Mize gets his shot to make a case to stay in the rotation claiming the 5th spot thanks to Spencer Turnbull’s being unavailable due to Covid-19. Mize was not impressive in his 2020 season with the Tigers as he continues to learn the ropes, but he finished Spring Training 2021 strong, striking out 15 batters in his last 8 2/3 innings while appearing much more comfortable after a rocky start in Lakeland.
Wednesday, April 7th, 1:10 PM:
The series concludes with Kenta Maeda taking the bump against Matthew Boyd. Maeda had an excellent debut season with the Twins after being acquired in a trade with the LA Dodgers in February of 2020. featuring an arsenal that has 6 pitches but mainly relies on slider, fastball, change up, Maeda struck out 80 batters in 66.2 innings and led the league with .750 WHIP. He did give up 9 Home Runs so when he makes a mistake hitters can punish him. Matthew Boyd will look to build upon his Opening Day start where he cruised through 5 2/3 innings giving up just 3 hits and, although he did issue 4 free passes that the Indians were not able to take advantage of.
2 Key Minnesota Twins players to watch against the Detroit Tigers
Nelson Cruz: The ageless Cruz will look to continue his tormenting of the Detroit Tigers after an excellent 2020 season where he hit 16 Home Runs in just 185 ABs after turning 40 years old in July.
Byron Buxton: The CF has all the tools and seems poised for a breakout 2021 campaign. He doesn’t draw walks, but he has some pop in the bat with 13 home runs last season along with the speed to swipe bags while playing gold glove caliber defense
My Series Forecast:
Monday’s game I am expecting some runs on the board as the Twins should be able to make plenty of contact vs Jose Urena and the knock around the bullpen. The Tigers should be able to rough up Matt Shoemaker as well, though after just two hits in the finale vs the Indians the bats will need to wake up but should benefit from a more regular lineup. I expect runs on the board and whoever’s bullpen pitches the best to walk off the field a winner.
Tuesday I just have a hunch that Casey Mize is going grab the bull by the horns and come out of the gate strong. He knows if he wants to avoid the bus to Toledo when Spencer Turnbull is ready to return he can not be 2020 Casey Mize. His finish to spring was strong and I think that continues to start the regular season and he will be the lead story of a Detroit Tigers victory.
Wednesday I think old friend Nelson Cruz will deposit one of those famous Matthew Boyd hangers into the centerfield bushes and Maeda will keep the Tigers off balance and off the bases and Minnesota will take the finale.