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Series Preview: Tigers vs. Pirates

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Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Is this a four-game series or two two-game series? Does anyone care?

Anyway, the Tigers are in a bit of an odd spot, sort of rebuilding around the contracts they can’t trade. Until the White Sox emerge, it looks like the Tigers are an Indians down year away from a playoff spot in the next couple years, so it makes sense not to tear everything down, and that seems to be the approach Al Avila is taking.

Detroit split a four-game series in Baltimore, 2-2, from Thursday to Sunday.

The Pirates (54-47 Edit: 54-57, unfortunately) won their first series in a while, taking two of three from the Padres over the weekend.

Schedule

At Pittsburgh

Monday, 7:05 p.m. - Jordan Zimmermann (7-8, 5.35 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (4-4, 4.47), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - Matt Boyd (5-5, 5.35) vs. Chad Kuhl (4-7, 4.53), TV: AT&T SportsNet

At Detroit

Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. - Ivan Nova (10-8, 3.66) vs. Justin Verlander (7-7, 4.20), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Thursday, 1:10 p.m. - Gerrit Cole (9-8, 4.00) vs. TBD, TV: AT&T SportsNet

Tigers

51-59 (52-58 Pythag, 4.81 RS/G, 5.10 RA/G)

Offense

The Tigers are 10th in the Major Leagues in runs. A glance at their leaderboard, though, shows the traded Alex Avila and J.D. Martinez near the top. Justin Upton (.281/.367/.533, 21 HR) is having an excellent season. Ian Kinsler (.242/.322/.387) is second among their position players in fWAR, with a lot of that value coming from defense. The same is true to a more extreme degree for Jose Iglesias, who is on the bereavement list. Miguel Cabrera (.256/.343/.415, 13 HR) isn’t doing so hot by his standards. Jeimer Candelario, prize of the Alex Avila/Justin Wilson trade, is set to be called up.

Pitching

The Tigers’ starting rotation ranks 10th in MLB by fWAR (9.2), but its bullpen is dead last (-0.7). Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris are on the disabled list. I’m out of the loop with Justin Verlander. Not sure what’s up with him. He looks ... OK? His ERA is creeping up, but he’s still striking people out. Matt Boyd and Jordan Zimmermann both have K/9s in the sixes. Francisco Rodriguez did some damage to the Tigers pen while he was there. Former Pirate Justin Wilson was their best reliever, but now he’s a former Tiger, also. Shane Greene (9.60 K/9, 4.89 BB/9, 2.54 ERA, 4.45 xFIP) is closing these days.

Outlook

This doesn’t look like a bad setup for the Pirates pitching-wise — Drew VerHagen is in line, but not yet announced, to start Thursday — and the Pirates retained more of their core through the trade deadline. Whatever that means for one series.

Poll

How does this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Pirates sweep!
    (42 votes)
  • 44%
    3-1 Pirates
    (147 votes)
  • 34%
    2-2 split
    (112 votes)
  • 3%
    3-1 Tigers
    (13 votes)
  • 4%
    Tigers sweep
    (14 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now