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2021 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers @ Houston Astros

The Astros (6-3, t-1st in AL West) welcome the Tigers (3-6, 5th in AL Central) to town with a familiar face in the opposing dugout

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Tigers Quick Notes

The Narrative

The Tigers started the year pretty upbeat. They won their first two games and the opening series at home with Miguel Cabrera popping and Opening Day homer. However, since then the Tigers have entered into something of a tailspin in the young season.

Detroit has lost 6 of their last 7 games, all of which have been against either Cleveland or the Twins, and are currently on a 4-game losing streak. Now that they’ll face their first non-divisional opponent, the Astros, who seem like they should be able to handle the Tigers quite easily. Anything can happen of course, but on paper it seems as though Detroit’s challenges are only growing.

There’s also the elephant in the room concerning the Tigers’ newest manager, one Andrew Jay Hinch. The Astros’ former skipper will return to Minute Maid Park as the visiting manager after signing with Detroit in the offseason. There’s still a lot of love for Hinch among Astros fans after he led them to the promised land in 2017, and there’s a good chance I’ll be full-body crying when I see him in the dugout on the third base line.

Even with the upgrade at skipper, the Tigers aren’t really bound for glory in 2021 according to popular opinion. There have been a few exciting moments so far on the season, but nothing to herald a return to prominence in the AL Central just yet.

The Offense

The most exciting offensive performance in the Tigers’ lineup has been Akil Badoo, who came out swinging and swatted his first major league home run on the first major league pitch he saw. Badoo had a monster opening week going 5-for-11 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI in just 4 games. Since then he’s gone 0-for-5 with a walk though, so it remains to be seen if he can adjust at the major league level.

Catcher Wilson Ramos, who the Tigers picked up in the offseason, has also been paying dividends in 2021 along with Old Friend Robbie Grossman. Ramos has already belted 4 home runs, which were all solo shots. Strikeouts are a problem for him though, as he has already wracked up 10 in just 22 AB’s.

Meanwhile, Grossman has himself 10 walks and a home run of his own to go with a nice, gaudy .485 OBP. His .894 OPS is good for third best on the team, though he is best among players who have logged at least 3.1 plate appearances per Tigers games so far in 2021.

After those three players things have... not been great for Detroit, offensively speaking. As a team they are slashing a paltry .197/.268/.352, which is bottom feeder territory at this point in the season.

There was a magical moment in the snow on Opening Day when Miguel Cabrera belted a home run, but the power at the plate has been hard to come by for the team this season. On top of that, Cabrera himself has since hit the IL, so not exactly building confidence.

The Bullpen

As bad as the offense in general has been for the Tigers, the bullpen has been worse. As a unit they own a league-worst 7.08 ERA after giving up 27 runs in 34.1 innings. They have also given up more runs than any other bullpen, with 10 on the ledger so far this season.

The only relievers who have not given up a run this season are Harold Castro and Alex Lange, but they’ve only pitched one inning each, and Castro is a position player who pitched in a blowout.

There doesn’t seem to be a defined closer in Detroit’s pen for 2021. Gregory Soto and Bryan Garcia have both notched saves, and Soto is the sole owner of a win among relievers. Things are pretty ugly in Detroit’s pen after that. 4 players have ERA’s north of 10 already and only 4 of the relievers who have appeared so far in 2021 haven’t surrendered a home run.

Detroit also features a couple of starters who are trying to make comebacks out of the pen. One of those starters is former Ranger Derek Holland, who the Astros should recognize. Holland has been a shell of his former self though, and has been getting slapped around pretty hard so far this season.

The other former starter is Michael Fulmer, who has had much more positive results in relief. In fact, ha has been good enough that Fulmer was tapped to start Game 3 in Houston after Julio Teheran was placed on the IL.

The Starters

Casey Mize (RHP, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 K’s) will get the ball for the Tigers in Game 1. Mize had a good opening start in 2021, but didn’t go deep, leaving after just 4 innings. He only gave up 1 earned and struck out 4 during that start. Mize made his debut last season, where he pitched 7 games with a 6.99 ERA. This will be his first time facing Houston at the MLB level.

Matthew Boyd (LHP, 1-1, 2.13 ERA, 10 K’s) has been a mainstay in the Tigers’ rotation since 2015, and has gotten off to a pretty good start for his 2021 campaign. After firing 5,2 shutout innings on Opening Day, Boyd went 7 innings in his most recent start and struck out 8 while giving up 3 ER. This will be Boyd’s first start at Minute Maid Park since 2015.

Michael Fumer (RHP, 0-0, 2.57 ERA, 10 K’s) will get the ball for the finale on Wednesday. Fulmer had an absolutely terrible 2020 after failing to meet expectations the seasons before that. He has only given up 2 runs in 7 innings so far this year and is tied with Matthew Boyd for the strikeout lead at 10.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, April 12th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Tigers - 97.1 The Ticker / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Tigers - Bally Sports Detroit / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Tuesday, April 13th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Tigers - 97.1 The Ticker / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Tigers - Bally Sports Detroit / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Wednesday, April 14th @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Tigers - 97.1 The Ticker / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Tigers - Bally Sports Detroit / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (28 votes)
  • 55%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (42 votes)
  • 5%
    Tigers Win 2-1
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Tigers Sweep 3-0
    (2 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now