The Tigers have managed to win just 46 games despite playing 155 thus far. A winning percentage below 30% in baseball is laughable at best, and this team is worse than both assumed bottom-feeders in Baltimore and Miami. Ron Gardenhire has had little to work with, and has gotten less from them. He’ll be back in 2020, along with Miguel Cabrera’s anchor of a contract, but this team is hapless in their current construction.
What They Do Well:
It’s not a surprise that a team this bad would have little going for it. We’ve harped on their deficiencies in this space all season long so continuing to beat that dead horse does little for me. They are in the bottom third across all facets of the game, and while the farm system has some big names, no significant contributors (sorry Jake Rogers) are currently up with the big club.
To really fish for something they’ve done well in 2019, there’s probably no better place to look than their record against the Cleveland Indians. Detroit managed to go 1-18 with a -78 run differential against Terry Francona’s club. Obviously that’s not good at all, but you almost have to be trying to stink up the place that badly against a common opponent. With little place else to turn, the Tigers were great at losing to the Indians this year.
What They Do Not Do Well:
As the flip side of the section above this is also a bloodbath for the home club. In fielding they are 26th and dead last in batting, I suppose they can be proud of their 20th ranking in terms of pitching. Minnesota needs a few homers to catch the Yankees for the MLB single season record, and Detroit should provide them in spades. During a three-game series earlier this month the Tigers coughed up 10 longballs to the Bombers.
Spencer Turnbull has been an arm of intrigue in 2019 for Detroit, but he’s 3-15 with a 4.66 ERA. Wednesday’s starter Daniel Norris was a once-heralded arm but has taken his lumps as well, going 3-13 with a 4.58 ERA. Sweeps are never an easy ask, regardless of the competition, but Detroit will do its best to provide the Twins ample opportunity.
Individuals of Note:
Former Twins farmhand Niko Goodrum has actually provided the greatest fWAR for Detroit this season, but his year is over due to a groin strain. Victor Reyes is one of the lone productive bats in the lineup at this point. He’s been worth 1.6 fWAR in just over 60 games this season. Although he is batting .304 on the year, his .772 OPS leaves a bit to be desired.
The staff ace Matthew Boyd won’t be seen having just taken a turn, but the aforementioned Turnbull will throw. He’s responsible for the second highest fWAR on the pitching staff and has a FIP that suggests a bit better numbers than what he’s accounted for. Of the trio that Minnesota will square off against it’s Turnbull who keeps the ball in the park the best.
These two clubs have not seen each other since the end of August. A four-game series in Detroit was won by the Twins dropping only game two. On the year Minnesota is 11-5 against Detroit.
The Twins are 7-3 over their last 10 games while the Tigers are an opposite 3-7. Minnesota hasn’t lost a series to a sub-.500 team since dropping two of three to the White Sox on August 21st. Detroit last won a series on July 31st taking two of three against the Angels.
Tuesday: Odorizzi vs Turnbull
Wednesday: TBD vs Norris
Thursday: TBD vs Zimmermann
Detroit is terrible and the Twins have an eye on the postseason. I’d like to see Mitch Garver be available this week even though he didn’t initially make the trip to the Motor City. Max Kepler playing in a regular capacity would be good for his playoff outlook as well. Minnesota is three positive outcomes from an AL Central division title, and 100 wins is in reach as well. A sweep here would go a long way to positioning them well for both opportunities.