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ON DECK: Tigers continue search for offense as they visit Angels

The struggle for the Detroit Tigers to generate offense in 2018 has been well-documented throughout the season, especially when they are on the road. That came to fruition over the weekend against the Oakland Athletics in the Coliseum. Detroit was swept in all three games, mustered just one run combined and wasted away three very solid starting pitching performances in each contest.

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The Tigers (47-64) will continue their extended search for enough offense this week. They will make the approximate 400-mile trip down the Golden State and head for Anaheim for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels (59-53).

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We discussed the last series preview how the A’s have been on a mid-season surge. Well, the Angels have been the opposite of that. On June 9, they won a sixth straight game, sitting at 37-28 overall and were squarely in the wild-card picture. Since then, they own the fourth-worst record in the American League. After a series loss to the Cleveland Indians this past weekend, Los Angeles has lost six of seven overall. There was also a report on Sunday that long-time manager Mike Scioscia will be stepping down at season’s end.

So while the Tigers will run into a reeling Angels team, that may prove to be more beneficial to the Halos. Detroit has not won a series at the Big A since 2009. In fact, they split a four-game set with L.A. last season, which snapped a streak of six straight series losses in Anaheim.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Matthew Boyd (Tigers) vs. Nick Tropeano (Angels)

Matthew Boyd (6-9, 4.22 ERA) carved out his most dominant start of 2018 his last time out, going eight shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds, surrendering just four hits and striking out seven. It continues what has been a really strong stretch for Boyd, who has a 1.42 ERA in three starts coming out of the All-Star break with 20 strikeouts versus three walks. He twirled five scoreless against the Angels back on May 28.

The Angels’ pitching staff has been decimated by injuries in 2018. Monday’s starter Nick Tropeano (4-6, 4.94 ERA) has had multiple stints on the disabled list this year, including a near-month-long absence from mid-June up to the All-Star break. The 27-year-old has a 5.29 ERA in three second-half starts, one of which included yielding five hits — all solo homers — to the Chicago White Sox. Tropeano picked up a win against the Tigers back on May 29, pitching 5.2 innings of two-run ball.

Game 2 | Jacob Turner (Tigers) vs. Andrew Heaney (Angels)

Following the trade of Mike Fiers to the A’s on Monday, the Tigers announced that Jacob Turner would be recalled from Triple-A Toledo to assume Fiers’ spot in the rotation. A former first-round pick of the Tigers in 2009, Turner is one of those guys who simply has not panned out at the major league level. His career ERA in the minors sits at a respectable 3.81 over 131 games but it is well over 5.00 in his 101 games in the majors, in time with five different clubs. He has logged 11 starts for the Mud Hens, registering a 4.01 ERA since the Tigers re-upped with him back in early June.

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For a team that has seen pitchers drop like flies this season, the Angels have to be encouraged with what Andrew Heaney (6-7, 3.75 ERA) has been able to do thus far (knock on wood). Heaney has already logged more starts (20) this year than he has in any of his previous four campaigns. He allowed four runs over six innings in his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays, snapping a string of five consecutive quality starts for the 27-year-old, but he carries a 3.35 ERA over that entire six-game stretch. The Tigers tagged him for five runs over five innings back on May 31.

Game 3 | Blaine Hardy (Tigers) vs. Jaime Barria (Angels)

Blaine Hardy (4-3, 3.25 ERA), ladies and gentleman. The 31-year-old is arguably the team’s most valuable pitcher in 2018. Hardy in his last start against the Oakland Athletics carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Jed Lowrie broke it up. Hardy got through seven frames and allowed just the Lowrie single but took a no-decision because of, you know, the whole “Tigers cannot score runs” thing. He did not face the Angels in the first meeting this season but has fared better away from Comerica Park. (2.81 ERA in 13 road games)

Again highlighting the injury woes in Anaheim, rookie Jaime Barria (6-7, 3.84 ERA) has been a blessing for the Angels this year. Being sent up and down between Triple-A and the majors on five separate instances has not affected the 22-year-old and he is expected to be a regular starting option with notable injuries to the Angels’ rotation. Barria in his last start allowed three runs over five innings, which ended a streak of five starts in which he pitched into the sixth inning.

HITTERS TO WATCH

Look, when your team manages to plate just one run, goes 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position and leave 16 runners on base in a three-game set, it is hard to pinpoint a hitter to watch for. One guy who needs to get it going is Nicholas Castellanos. Perhaps the everyday grind and dog days of summer are wearing on Nick and affecting his work at the dish. He has just a .394 OPS in the second half (14 games) and is fanning at a higher rate in that span (31.6 percent) than his season average (23.2 percent). He did, however, have great success against the Angels earlier this season (8 for 19, 4 2B).

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Among the myriad of pitching injuries to the Angels has been two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani. Los Angeles has opted to shut him down on the mound for the foreseeable future due to a UCL tear in his throwing elbow. The team, however, has allowed him to continue hitting and he has a .810 OPS in 85 plate appearances since being activated from the DL in early July. Ohtani this past weekend against the Indians went 6 for 13 with a double and two homers, driving in four runs.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Mon, Aug 6 @ 10:07 p.m. ET
  • Game 2 | Tues, Aug 7 @ 10:07 p.m. ET
  • Game 3 | Wed, Aug 8 @ 4:07 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.

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