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Red Sox at Tigers Series Preview

A look at the final series before the All-Star break.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Bless You Boys

The Opponent in one sentence

The Tigers are among the worst team in baseballs and have the second worst run differential in the game, with only Baltimore coming in with a worse mark.

Record

28-54

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 2, Tigers 2

Trend

Down. The Tigers have been playing some very rough baseball despite picking up a victory on Thursday against the White Sox. Said victory snapped a four-game losing streak, and they haven’t won a series since back in late May when they beat the Orioles. Overall, Detroit has lost 17 of their last 21 games.

Pitching Matchups

7/5: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Ryan Carpenter, 7:10 PM ET

The Red Sox are coming off a big late-game victory on Thursday, but the pitching certainly wasn’t to thank in that one. After Hector Velázquez failed to even make it through three last night, Boston could really use a good, long outing from Eduardo Rodriguez. The lefty has been a bit better at getting that done in recent starts, going at least six innings three times in June including two of seven innings, but he is coming off an outing in which he recorded just one out in the sixth. Detroit’s lineup isn’t particularly scary, though they do have a pair of solid right-handed veterans in Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos that could certainly do damage. As always, control and efficiency are going to be of the utmost importance for Rodriguez, who walked four in his last outing in London. He did face Detroit earlier in the year, allowing just a run over six innings of work.

This start was originally scheduled to go to Gregory Soto, but instead it will be the left-handed Ryan Carpenter getting the nod. Carpenter has had a very rough season for the Tigers, pitching to an 8.82 ERA with a 7.07 FIP and a 9.37 DRA over 32 23 innings on the year. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since the middle of June, and over his last two starts at that point he had allowed a total of 16 runs (14 earned) over just 6 23 innings. Carpenter doesn’t miss many bats and has a fly ball tendency that can really hurt him in today’s environment, so if his command isn’t near-perfect he can get into trouble quickly. The southpaw will offer a pair of low-90s fastballs along with a curveball, a changeup and a slider.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

7/6: Rick Porcello vs. TBD, 4:10 PM ET

It has been a remarkably uneven year for Rick Porcello, even by his own standards, and the hope is that a game against a bad team in his old stomping grounds will get him back on track. The former Cy Young winner is coming off an absolutely horrendous outing in which he allowed six runs to the Yankees without even recording an out. That start moved his ERA up over half a run up to 5.07 on the year. He’s in a slump in general right now, having allowed five runs in his start before that and allowing at least four runs in four of his last six. Back in April he allowed three runs over six innings to the Tigers.

Officially, this start is listed as TBD but it seems likely that Jordan Zimmermann should get the nod here. The former National was a former big-money free agent signing for the Tigers that has simply not worked out. The veteran has made only nine starts in 2019, pitching to a 5.36 ERA with a 4.66 FIP and a 6.47 DRA over that stretch. He’s never been able to miss a ton of bats, but when he was at his best he got away with that thanks to stellar control. That has not been the case this year as he’s walking a little over three batters per nine innings. He is coming off a strong outing against his former team in which he allowed just one run over six innings. Earlier in the year, the Red Sox got to Zimmermann for five runs in just three innings. The righty will offer a low-90s fastball as well as a curveball and a slider.

7/7: David Price vs. TBD, 1:10 PM ET

The final start of the first half for the Red Sox will go to David Price, which is fitting since he’s been their most consistent starter all year long. He is coming off a bit of strange start his last time out in Toronto, though. The results were fine as the Blue Jays scored only two runs over six innings, but Price had to work his way out of trouble after walking a season-high four batters in the game. Prior to that one he hadn’t walked more than two in any outing. Look for him to control the strike zone a bit better against his former team in this one.

The Tigers haven’t announced a starter for this game either. My guess is that it will go to the aforementioned Soto. If it does, the Red Sox should have an opportunity for a big game as the rookie lefty has an ERA over 8.00 and has struggled mightily with command since coming to the majors.

Old Friends

None

Notable Position Players

Miguel Cabrera is a future no-doubt Hall of Famer, but the Tigers star is clearly past his prime at this point. The power just isn’t there any more for the former home run champ, as he’s currently holding an ISO under .100. That said, he’s been much better since the start of June and is on fire over his last few games.

Nicholas Castellanos is the best hitter in the Tigers lineup these days. Always known for hitting the ball extremely hard, he’s using that skill this year to hit for solid power and, as always, turning a lot of balls in play into hits.

Niko Goodrum leads off most nights for Detroit, and while he strikes out a bunch he will also draw walks, make solid contact and do damage with his legs.

Jeimer Candelario has had a rough year, unable to tap into any of his power thanks in part to issues making contact. He has drawn a lot of walks this season, but everything else has been down.

Christin Stewart is having a similarly tough year, though he does make a bit more contact than Candelario.

Brandon Dixon hits for big power, but also strikes out in about a third of his plate appearances and almost never walks.

Harold Castro has a .366 batting average on balls in play and that is about the only thing from keeping his line from being 2018 Sandy León-esque.

John Hicks’ line is 2018 Sandy León-esque.

Jordy Mercer hasn’t played a ton this year and hasn’t done much of anything when he has.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox - Game Two Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Bullpen Snapshot

Shane Greene is the Tigers closer and one of the more underrated trade chips for this summer. Greene isn’t an overpowering, superstar reliever but he does get a ton of ground balls and strikes out about a batter per inning.

Joe Jimenez has long been seen as the closer of the future but he’s still searching for the consistency to be a top reliever in this league. The righty misses a ton of bats but needs to harness his command to take his game to the next level.

Buck Farmer is quietly having a very solid season, striking out more batters than ever while also getting ground balls at a higher rate than ever.

Daniel Stumpf is the top lefty in the Tigers bullpen and gets a bunch of strikeouts but also issues a ton of walks.

Injuries

Michael Fulmer hasn’t been able to stay productive and healthy since winning the Rookie of the Year in 2016. The righty had to undergo Tommy John surgery before the season and will be out for all of 2019.

Josh Harrison underwent surgery on his hamstring about a month ago and is likely to miss another 4-6 weeks or so.

JaCoby Jones went down with a back injury earlier this week and while he shouldn’t miss too much time he won’t play in this series.

Tyson Ross continues to battle injury issues and he is out indefinitely with an elbow injury he suffered in mid-May

Matt Moore was once part of a trio of top prospects along with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. That hasn’t quite worked out, and he had season-ending elbow surgery in April.

Grayson Greiner is the backup catcher for Detroit and is currently in a rehab assignment. He could potentially be back for this series but with the All-Star break right around the corner they may keep him down to get him more reps.

Spender Turnbull is fighting some fatigue in his shoulder and the Tigers are shutting him down. He could be back after the break.

Weather Forecast

It should be a nice weekend in Detroit, albeit with some humidity. The one game that could run into issues is the opener on Friday as there are supposed to be scattered thunderstorms in the area.