Detroit Tigers vs. Washington Nationals series preview
By Jon Kloss
After a disappointing loss to the Pirates on Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers will look to bounce back against the Washington Nationals.
This time it will not be from the comfort of their own home, as the Tigers will hit the road for a three-game set with Washington.
The Resilient Tigers
Wednesday's loss against the Pirates might have been the Tigers worse loss of the season so far. With their ace on the mound and an opportunity to pull within one game of .500, they Tigers failed to show up. Eduardo Rodriguez was not his usual self, but it was only a matter of time before he came back down to earth.
The offense was what let the team down, as they managed only one hit against Rich Hill and the Pirates bullpen. It was very frustrating, but if there is one thing we have learned about this team, it is that they can bounce back after a bad loss.
After being shutout against the Mariners on Saturday, the Tigers stormed back on Mother's Day to get a much-needed victory against Seattle. On May 9, the Tigers were shutout by Shane Bieber and the Cleveland Guardians, going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The next day they were able to bounce back and shutout the Guardians to win the series. Time and time again the Tigers have shown resilience, which is a big reason why they are fighting for second place in the AL Central right now.
A Young Budding Duo
It was quite a questionable decision to leave Riley Greene out of the lineup on Wednesday, considering the fact he has been the Tigers best hitter as of late. Greene is hitting .412 in the month of May, with seven extra-base hits. His presence was missed, as Matt Vierling failed to make a play in center that would give the Pirates the lead and set the tone for Wednesday's loss. Riley Greene's average exit velocity sits at 90.9, putting him in the 96th percentile in MLB. Greene has continued to cut down on his strikeouts and is lifting the ball a bit more as well in May.
The other young Tigers hitter showing improvement in May is Spencer Torkelson. While it still may be a far cry from what Tigers fans were expecting, Torkelson has been able to hit .283 in May with an OPS sitting at .786.
If Torkelson could put up those numbers for an entire season, the Tigers would have a consistent producer at first base. Torkelson's hard-hit percentage is up over five percent from last year, with his strikeout rate down around five percent as well. The thing Tork will need to work on is his ability to draw walks, as he sits in just the 23rd percentile in MLB in BB%.
A Look at Washington
Much like the Tigers, the Washington Nationals were expected to sit at the bottom of MLB when it came to win totals on the year. But much like the Tigers, Washington has been much better than expected sitting at 18-25 on the season. They have played competitive baseball in a tough division with their pitching staff posting a 4.39 ERA on the year.
The Nationals have two young pitchers making waves this year for them. Josiah Gray, acquired from the Dodgers in the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner deal, is leading this staff. He has a 2.73 ERA in 52.2 innings pitched this year. MacKenzie Gore, acquired in the Juan Soto trade, has struck out 56 batters in 44 innings pitched. His ERA is also very solid, sitting at 3.69.
The Nationals offense, while being better than the Tigers, still lacks the true horses that can carry an offense. Young players like Luis Garcia, Keibert Ruiz and CJ Abrams were all highly touted prospects who have shown flashes but have yet to consistently hit for them. Another fun thing to watch in this series is former Tiger Jeimer Canderlario. He signed with Washington this offseason and has not had the bounce back season he was hoping for so far in 2023.