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Series #36: Athletics vs Tigers - Big Games Ahead

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Tigers’ Current Record:

47-62, third place and thirteen games out in the AL Central division. They have won two straight games against the Reds, and six of their last ten.

Possible Lineup:

Ronny Rodriguez - 2B

Nick Castellanos - RF

Niko Goodrum - LF

John Hicks - 1B

Victor Martinez - DH

Jeimer Candelario - 3B

James McCann - C

Jose Iglesias - SS

JaCoby Jones - CF

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Blaine Hardy - LHP

Jordan Zimmermann - RHP

Francisco Liriano - LHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

While the Tigers used five relievers in their most recent game, only one reliever threw over twenty pitches and the team had an off day yesterday, like the A’s.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Defying his age and expectations, Victor Martinez has been a hitting machine since the All Star Break and is leading the offense with a .934 OPS since the All Star Break. Jose Iglesias has joined Martinez on the fun, hitting two home runs and slugging .571 in the season’s second half.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Nick Castellanos, A’s killer extraordinaire, has been flat out awful recently. Over the last month, Castellanos has only hit two home runs, and his batting average is .190. He has been even worse since the All Star Break, with a slash line of .119/.159/.214. Continuing to neutralize Castellanos in the middle of the order will be key for A’s pitching in this series, as he did the vast majority of damage for the Tigers in the first series the team’s played this year.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

While key offensive pieces have been struggling in the second half, the Tigers’ starting pitching has more than made up for it. Matt Boyd has a WHIP of 0.89 and an ERA of 1.42 in three starts since the All Star Break, with twenty strikeouts against three walks, and Not-Athletic Mike Fiers has only given up three runs in his three starts since the break, albeit in fewer innings pitched than would be ideal.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Jordan Zimmermann was another pitcher whose name was in numerous trade rumors, but he ultimately stayed with his team though the July deadline. This is, perhaps, in small part due to his recent performance, as, in his last two starts, has given up nine runs and four home runs in just eight innings pitched. The bullpen has also struggled to find solid depth, and is a high risk to give up runs in the middle innings.

Key Injuries:

The face of the franchise, Miguel Cabrera, who has continued to be one of the best hitters on his team, is out until 2019 with a biceps injury. His bat is sorely missed in the lineup that was already short on league average or better bats. The other biggest injuries for the Tigers are on the pitching staff, as Michael Fulmer is expected to miss a month of action and Daniel Norris still doesn’t have a timetable for his return.

* * *

The A’s are back to their winning ways, and are now looking inwards to improve the big league team. The struggling Dustin Fowler has been sent down to AAA to get regular at bats while Nick Martini stays hot, and the A’s are now hoping to catch some lightning in a bottle with the call up of prospect Ramon Laureano. The team didn’t make a big splash at the deadline, but with the quality of prospects knocking on the door in the minors, it made more sense to roll the dice with the players the organization is most familiar with. It is difficult to predict how a rookie will do in their first big league action, but Laureano appears as ready as they come, and is capable of contributing with solid defense and baserunning, even if his bat needs an adjustment period at this level.

The Tigers are in the middle of a rebuild, but didn’t have the most successful deadline to speed the process along. While the Tigers have been playing better of late, with several young pieces who are talented, but it is still hard to ignore that Detroit has been the worst hitting team in the spot since the All Star Break, with the team collectively hitting for a .608 OPS. The strong starting pitching has helped mitigate some of the offensive struggles, but without Miguel Cabrera this team is now fairly punchless at the plate. The Tigers should never be dismissed, but this is the type of series that the A’s really should sweep.

Game #111: Friday, August 3rd, 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSD,

Brett Anderson vs Blaine Hardy

Anderson has been pitching admirably lately to keep his spot in the rotation, pitching twelve innings over his last two starts. His slider is still one of the best in the business, and if he is able to locate his fastball well, one can catch glimpses of the ace he almost was. Athletic he is not, but effective he sure can be. Blaine Hardy has been bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen this year, and has been fairly successful in both roles. With half of the Tigers’ rotation struggling, Hardy needs to step up his performance in order to keep the offense afloat.

Game #112: Saturday, August 4th, 6:05 - NBCSCA, FSD,

Edwin Jackson vs Jordan Zimmermann

Jackson earned the 100th win of his well-travelled career his last time out, pitching a scoreless outing just as it was starting to look as if he was losing effectiveness. Zimmermann hasn’t been helping his team win at all recently, having one of the shortest starts of his career his last time out, and giving up more runs than innings pitched in the season’s second half. He is a better pitcher than he has appeared, but hopefully his cold streak can continue for at least one more start.

Game #113: Sunday, August 5th, 1:05 - NBCSCA, FSD,

Trevor Cahill vs Francisco Liriano

It has been an un and down season for Cahill, as he has featured some of the nastiest pitches of his career while struggling to pitch deep enough into games and also struggling to stay healthy. He showed signs of improvement after a rocky start in his last time out, however, as he lasted six full innings, but he will have to repeat that type of performance a few more times to change the narrative of his season. Allergies have prevented Liriano from making a start in about two weeks, but the last couple time he pitched prior to his missed starts he has been very effective.