ON DECK: Tigers close out homestand with four games vs. Royals

Hey look, the Detroit Tigers did not get postponed (yet) this week and they managed to win some games. It’s a win for everyone involved!

Really though, it was refreshing to see Detroit squeak out some tightly-contested games against the Baltimore Orioles at home and pick up their first home series victory of the 2018 season, now riding a streak of three straight wins after dropping their previous five.

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The Tigers now finish out what started as a 10-game homestand with a four-game weekend series at Comerica Park against division rival Kansas City.

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The Royals (3-13) are really fighting it right now. Since blowing out the Seattle Mariners 10-0 back on April 9, they have dropped eight straight games and had two postponements. Granted, they ran into a couple relatively hot teams in the Angels and Blue Jays; they were outscored 31-12 in Toronto earlier this week.

Detroit and Kansas City split what ended up being just a mini two-game series at Comerica earlier this season.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

GAME 1 | Jason Hammel (Royals) vs. Michael Fulmer (Tigers)

Jason Hammel (0-1, 3.86 ERA) has gotten off to a respectable start, quite reflective of the Royals’ starting rotation early on in 2018. Detroit tagged him for five earned over five innings in his first start of the year, but he’s settled down over his last two times out against the Indians and Mariners: 11.1 IP, 2 ER

Michael Fulmer (1-2, 3.86 ERA) will be pitching on seven days of rest in this start, just the fifth time he has at least that many days in between outings. Fulmer his last time out allowed a career-high nine runs (six earned) against his arch-nemesis Cleveland Indians. The good news is that he a) returns to Comerica (career 3.22 ERA at home) and sees an opponent he’s had solid success against (3.33 ERA in 7 starts vs. KC).

GAME 2 | Jakob Junis (Royals) vs. Daniel Norris (Tigers)

Jakob Junis (3-1, 1.93 ERA) has been probably the Royals’ best starter in what has been a fairly solid Kansas City rotation early on this year. Junis has had the best command and has held opposing offenses in check, as evident by his K/BB ratio of 4.00 and allowing just 5.3 hits per nine innings. He twirled seven shutout innings against Detroit in his first start this year.

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Detroit is going to give the ball to lefty Daniel Norris (0-1, 7.11 ERA) for what will be Game 2 of a Friday doubleheader. Norris has only appeared in two games out of the bullpen so far, none since April 11 when he entered the game for an incapacitated Jordan Zimmermann in the first. He’ll toe the slab Friday night with a career 4.14 ERA in seven starts vs. Kansas City.

GAME 3 | Danny Duffy (Royals) vs. Mike Fiers (Tigers)

The Royals are officially tabbing this slot as Danny Duffy (0-2, 3.86 ERA), on short rest. The 29-year-old lefty has been much better his last two times out (2 R [1 ER] in 11.1 IP) than his first two starts of 2018 (8 R in 9.2 IP). Duffy has only allowed four hits or fewer each of his three times out but walked three batters in each of those outings as well.

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As for Mike Fiers (1-1, 3.86 ERA), he will be looking to bounce back from a scuffling performance against the Yankees. Fiers yielded six runs (five earned) on eight hits, including two homers, against New York. That came after going six shutout innings against the White Sox. He’s been pretty pedestrian against Kansas City in his career (4.78 ERA in 5 starts) but posted a 2.45 ERA in two outings against the Royals in 2017.

GAME 4 | Erik Skoglund vs. Francisco Liriano (Tigers)

The Royals decided to put Eric Skoglund (0-2, 9.31 ERA) on the hill Sunday afternoon. However, it would only be on three days of rest after Skoglund allowed five runs in five innings at Toronto on Tuesday. He’s only got nine games (seven starts) under his belt but he tossed 6.1 shutout frames in his major league debut against Detroit last season.

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Francisco Liriano (2-1, 2.55 ERA) continued his solid start to the new year with another quality start (figuratively speaking, not by definition) his last time out against Baltimore. Although he’s been punching out batters at a lower rate (7.1 K/9) than his career numbers (9.3 K/9) would suggest, he’s traded some of that in for inducing weak contact turned into outs; only 6.1 hits/9 in three starts.

HITTERS TO WATCH

Tigers fans know about Mike Moustakas and you can only slow him down so much. Next in the pecking order in terms of danger would be the first baseman, Lucas Duda. Despite in a 0 for 11 skid at the moment, Duda is hitting .250 with a .739 OPS, and ranks second on the team in homers (3) and RBI (10) behind the aforementioned Mike Moustakas.

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On the other side of the ledger, Tigers third baseman, Jeimer Candelario, has found himself a bit of a groove as of late. The Candy Man is riding a mini four-game hitting streak after going 4 for 4 on Thursday against the O’s. Overall, he’s gone 12 for 28 over his last seven games, with three homers and seven RBI in the span, upping his batting average over .100 points in that stretch.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Fri, April 20 @ 1:10 p.m. ET*
  • Game 2 | Fri, April 20 @ 7:10 p.m. ET*
  • Game 3 | Sat, April 21 @ 1:10 p.m. ET*
  • Game 4 | Sun, April 22 @ 1:10 p.m. ET

All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check your local listings for regional radio broadcasts.

*Can be seen on MLB Network (out of market only)

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