The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins will meet for the third time out of this final four-game series between these two NL Central foes on Saturday before they take a break for this coming week’s All-Star festivities.
Thursday night’s first game of the series saw the Twins get the better of the Tigers after a two-run sac fly from Jorge Polanco in the bottom of the 8th inning, where there was an error on the throw in to home plate. The Twins held the lead for the entire game up until that point and let this one slip from their grip.
The two teams are also slated to meet Friday night at Target Field, but this preview was written before the first pitch of that game which will start at 8:10 PM ET.
Matt Manning and Kenta Maeda are going to duke it out for Friday night’s game that will be televised on MLB Network.
Coming into this season, Detroit was expected to be the laughing stock of the MLB, and especially the AL Central. But as we approach the midway point of this season and the All-Star Game, the Tigers find themselves sitting at third place in the Central with a record of 40-48, but they are a solid 12 games back of the first-place Chicago White Sox.
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The Twins won the division by a narrow margin last year and were expected to be in the mix till the end of this year, but their organization has turned upside down. They are 36-50 on the season and are only a half-game ahead of the last-place Kansas City Royals in the Central.
If the Twins want any chance at contention, they need to pick it up immediately after the All-Star break. There is no time to waste for them.
Keys for Saturday’s Game
Wily Peralta was pushed back to start this game for the Detroit Tigers, and Bailey Ober is slated for the start for the Twins. Wily Peralta has not been known to go deep into games, so it is expected that the Twins go to the bullpen early, most likely looking to Kyle Funkhauser.
Wily Peralta has had limited time this season, only making four starts and pitching a small sample size of 21 innings. But when he has been called on, he has been great. He boasts a record of 2-1 and an ERA of 2.14. He has added 14 strikeouts in those 21 innings.
Kyle Funkhauser will be making his 24th appearance of the season if he is to get the nod. He comes in 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA, a 1.149 WHIP, 13 walks, and 25 strikeouts over 31.1 innings of work on the year. Much of his work has been in relief, but he has been stellar.
For the Minnesota Twins, Bailey Ober has made seven starts on the season, earning two decisions in those seven starts for a 1-1 record. In his first major league season, he has posted a 4.85 ERA and 33 strikeouts in nearly 30 innings of work.
The issue does not seem to be getting on base and batting for the Twins as they are in the top half of the league in both batting average and on-base percentage, but they are not reaching the same power numbers that they have produced in the last two years that has led to their success.
Two years ago, the Twins set the record for most home runs in a season with 307. This year nearly halfway through, they sit at 124, third in the MLB. While third is still great and should translate to winning and success, that just has not been the case.
Pitching has been the issue for the team based in the Twin Cities. They are fourth-worst in the MLB with a 4.99 team ERA, have allowed the fifth-most hits (765) and the second-most home runs (129).
For the Tigers, they are in the bottom half of nearly every statistical category for both batting and pitching, which explains the 40-48 record, but as of late, they have been able to win 7 of their last 10. Their offense has been sparked a bit by a bit of a resurgence from Designated Hitter Miguel Cabrera. He’s batting .246, has hit 7 home runs and has batted in 32 RBIs.
Jonathan Schoop has also produced a stellar season for the Tigers, giving them 16 home runs and 50 RBIs from the first base spot.
With the pitching expected to be questionable for the Tigers, it makes this game a little harder to project. They will most likely go to the bullpen to avoid tiring out any one pitcher before Sunday’s finale before the break. The carousel of pitchers should be enough to shut out the bats of the Twins, who have been very quiet as of late if you exclude an eight-run outing versus the White Sox nearly a week ago.
Minnesota has been falling, and Detroit has been staying afloat and keeping themselves competitive. I like this trend to continue into Saturday and the All-Star break.
Final Pick: Tigers ML