TEXAS RANGERS (22-20) vs. DETROIT TIGERS (20-19)

Game 1 – Nick Martinez (0-2, 5.04 ERA, 15 K) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2 4.34 ERA, 31 K)

Friday, May 19 @ 7:10 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports Detroit | Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

 

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers
Sep 12, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris (44) walks off the field against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Norris is given the tall task of opening this important weekend series against a red-hot Texas Rangers team on a nine-game win streak. If Norris wants to be successful, he will need to limit the amount of walks he’s been allowing so far this season. Norris has not gone a game without allowing at least two walks, including two games with four walks or more. Daniel has one career start against Texas back in 2015 and it did not go well. Norris only made it 1.2 IP and allowed six runs (two earned) and was chased from the game after 71 pitches.

 

The Rangers send Nick Martinez to the hill to start the series. Martinez has not found much success in the MLB since his debut in 2014, and this season is no different. He is 0-2 with a 5.04 ERA, and has been pounded for 13 runs over his last three starts. The pressure is on Martinez to perform well as the Rangers are looking for their 10th-straight win after beginning the season 13-20.

 

Game 2 –  A.J. Griffin (4-0, 3.15 ERA, 30 K) vs. Justin Verlander (3-3, 4.47 ERA, 49 K)

Saturday, May 20 @ 7:15 p.m. ET

TV: Fox | Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Justin Verlander is on the same pace as he was last season, when he finished 2nd in the American League Cy Young voting at the end of the season. Unfortunately, that pace is not a good one at this point in the year. His ERA is 4.47 (4.58 ERA on May 18 last year) and he has thrown 100 pitches in seven starts already this season. Almost exactly one year ago, Verlander started against Philadelphia and threw eight innings of three-hit baseball to jump start his season towards what should have been a Cy Young. Let’s hope he can do the same thing this Saturday against the Rangers.

A.J. Griffin has been a big part of the current winning streak for the Rangers. He has earned one win during that time with a complete game, four-hit outing against San Diego on May 9th that dipped his ERA down to 2.45 for the time being. His last start was a little shakier, as he allowed four runs in just five innings to Oakland, but the Rangers were able to pull out a win to keep the streak going.

Game 3 –  Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.76 ERA, 61 K) vs. Matthew Boyd (2-3, 5.18 ERA, 30 K)

Sunday, May 21 @ 8:05 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN | Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

It’s time for a little ESPN Sunday Night Baseball! The series finale will be the last MLB game played this weekend, a Sunday night showdown between the Rangers ace, Yu Darvish, and the Tigers Matthew Boyd.

Matthew Boyd probably wishes he had a one more chance to get back out there before appearing on Sunday Night Baseball, because his last start was a rough one. After cruising through two innings against Baltimore on Tuesday, the walls caved in on Boyd, who allowed seven runs on eight hits and was chased from the game with just one out in the 3rd inning. Prior to Tuesday, Boyd was having a decent year, sitting at 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA. But now Matthew will need to string together a few good outings to get back to where he wants and should be.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers
Aug 29, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Boyd (48) pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers are in for a tough test Sunday against Yu Darvish, who since coming into the league in 2012, has done nothing but win and strikeout hitters. Darvish is again in the top ten in the league in both strikeouts (61) and batting average against (.199) and is 6-0 against Detroit in his career with a 3.46 ERA in six starts. Yeah, Sunday Night should be a fun one.

PREDICTION

The Rangers are hot right now, real hot. They are playing the best baseball of any team in the league. But there are a few signs for the Tigers in this series that should give them some confidence. First, the Rangers have beaten up on bad teams during their win streak (Padres, Athletics, Phillies all under .500). Wins are wins, but they haven’t been against any teams as good as Detroit. Second, the Tigers are throwing two lefties (Norris, Boyd) against Texas in this series, which makes the below stat pretty relevant.

The Rangers have been below-average against lefties and before their nine-game win streak, were a team destined for the bottom of the league record-wise. Combine all these factors with Verlander getting the nod on Saturday, and I think the Tigers take two of three this weekend.

So far on the season, the Detroit Sports Nation Tigers team is 5-7 on our series predictions.