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Brief Overview: 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. Recent History: 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. Recent Trajectories: 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. Pitching Matchups: Tuesday: Odorizzi vs Turnbull Wednesday: TBD vs Norris Thursday: TBD vs Zimmermann Ending Thoughts: 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.
Brief Overview: Let’s not mince words here, Detroit is a poor team who has somehow even played below the level of the lowly Orioles this year. Their talent is few and far between and even harder to spot after Nick Castellanos and Shane Greene were dealt at the deadline. They currently have no qualified hitters with a wRC+ over 100 and just a small handful of pitchers who would be considered useful on any good team. I’m being harsh here but it really is hard to compliment a team that is 38-87 on the year and has already been eliminated from AL Central contention. What They Do Well: Oh lord, well, I’ll really be stretching what it means to “do well” in something, and liberties will have to be taken given the context of their baseball-reference page. The Tigers do actually have some solid starting pitching as they rank 13th in baseball by fWAR for starters. Most of this is carried by the efforts of Matt Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, and Daniel Norris who have all been able to soak innings with peripherals that range from “good” to “passable” which is truly something to note for a team in this situation. Usually I have more here but honest to God I cannot find anything worth writing about. What They Do Not Do Well: OOOH BABY, how much time do I have? Well, let’s start with the offense that’s about as offensive as Mister Rogers. They have the worst team wRC+ in baseball with a 76 mark which is just one point ahead of Nick Punto’s Twins wRC+. It gets even worse when looking at just the last seven days in which they’ve held a mark of 50 and have struck out an incredible 36.6% of the time. I mentioned before that they currently have no qualified hitters with a mark that is at or above average (100) and the only player above that line is Travis Demeritte and his 109 mark in just 77 plate appearances. “Does it get worse?” My sweet summer child, it always can. Their bullpen FIP is the third highest in baseball at 5.11. You want a comparison for that? Addison Reed had a FIP of 5.11 with the Twins... that’s the most horrific statement I’ve probably ever written. After trading Greene, they’re left with just a single reliever with a FIP under 4.00 who has thrown more than 10 innings. You want to guess who it is? Surprisingly, it isn’t Joe Jiménez but actually the wonderfully named Buck Farmer. But after him, there's a bunch of sketch and not a lot of experience. Individuals Of Note: Matt Boyd has been a good starting pitcher this year with peripherals that suggests an even better pitcher is deep down within him, but the home run problem that has nagged him for months now remains one of the biggest reasons why there is such a difference between his ERA and xFIP. Only 5 qualified starters in the AL have a higher HR/FB % than Boyd’s 17.6% mark. A guy with a homer problem going up against the 2019 Twins? What could go wrong. Although, Boyd was placed on the paternity list recently so his status for this series is up in the air. One of the other starters I mentioned was Spencer Turnbull who can pitch as well as someone named “Spencer Turnbull” should be able to. His FIP of 4.18 is solid but his real talent is the Rick Anderson special-the ground ball, and his GB% of 48.8% would be the seventh highest among qualified AL starters if he were qualified. Ex-Twins’ farmhand (and major leaguer for all of like 5 minutes), Niko Goodrum, is having the only real noteworthy season from a Tigers’ position player as he’s the only one still with the team who is above .3 fWAR (he’s at 1.9) and he also looks to be the only position player on the Tigers to eclipse the 2.0 mark set for “average” major leaguers. Goodrum is currently BABIP-ing his way to a solid year as a multi-positional-weapon as he has logged innings at every position except for catcher and as this article is being written he sits with a respectable wRC+ of 94. As snarkily mentioned before, his BABIP on the year is an above average .341 so he may be due for some regression but even if he is, he remains one of the few bright spots on the Tigers. Recent History: The Twins and Tigers have played a few times this year and the Twins are 6-3 against them but the last series against them came all the way back in the second week of June which might as well be an eternity ago. Recent Trajectories: The Twins are 8-8 over their last 5 series while the Tigers are 6-11 over their last 5 series. Pitching Match-ups: Friday: Berríos vs VerHagen Saturday: Gibson vs Jackson (holy crap it’s Edwin Jackson) Sunday: Pérez vs Boyd (The Tigers rotation is in limbo so this may change) Ending Thoughts: The Tigers are bad, like, really bad. Potentially some weird “baseball-like” thing will occur like it did the other day when they were able to beat Justin Verlander and the Astros at Houston, but there should really be no reason or excuse that the Twins can’t take the series or sweep. In my eyes, a series win is the very least they can do and a sweep should be expected given the difference between the two teams, but I would still lead with some caution given how tricky baseball can be sometimes. Anyway, I will call a sweep despite the fact that I am now on a two-series wrong streak. Hopefully I’ll get back on track.