The Phillies: Yesterday, Jim Jackson and Larry Andersen had a good chuckle at the misfortunes of Detroit as a city, before Jackson cleared his throat and began listing all of the great things Detroit does offer, citing the phrase "reclamation projects" multiple times. Then L.A. told a story about a guy he knew from his playing days trying desperately to get some sleep in a Detroit hotel only to wake up in the middle of the Detroit Grand Prix. They did this as the Phillies salvaged a win over the Braves and look to gain some ground in this NL East mess in which they're tangled. Try not to trash the opposing team's city today, though, Phillies broadcast team. Although it is Detroit, so it's already pretty... never mind, I haven't been there since 2004.
The Tigers: This is a 21-22 team that just watched Jordan Zimmermann, their five-year, $110 million man, walk off the field with a groin injury. Back in March, I wrote this:
"Barring even just one catastrophe, there could be a high-functioning team waiting for the Phillies when they get to Detroit in late May. But that's almost two full months of baseball in which anything could go wrong for Detroit, which is all they need for everything to go wrong."
So what the hell's wrong with them? They've got four guys hitting over .300 and two hitting over .320. The answer is obvious - pitching. The Phillies can hopefully take advantage of some tumbling, stumbling starters trying to force their way back into relevance.
Victor Martinez: V-Mart was one of the wild cards that had to go right for the Tigers to contend this year, and fortunately for them, his body has stayed intact and his bat has stayed on the ball. Through 149 AB at 37 years old, he's hitting .329 with a .908 OPS, six home runs... [looks at Ryan Howard] [sighs].
Miguel Cabrera: This guy. Good lord. Cabrera just went 6-for-11 against the Rays with three home runs. He suffered a bruise on his knee yesterday and is listed as "day-to-day" but given the terror he wields with his bat it's probably more accurate to classify him as "lurking in the background like a predator."
Nick Castellanos: The 24-year-old third baseman recently said that his team tries to "take advantage of the little things" in their wins, but given the propensity of some of these guys to strike with power, it sure doesn't feel very "little." Especially considering,
A list of qualified batters with a 158 wRC+ so far this year:— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) May 23, 2016
Ian Kinsler: Kinsler's riding a ten-game hit streak and as a 33-year-old infielder, he is somehow still getting better.
Cameron Rupp: My main man Cam got the ball rolling - or, streaking toward the right field corner I guess - yesterday in an actual win and is, in my mind, the only Phillies hitter worth listing here today.
Vince Velasquez vs. Mike Pelfrey
Well, somebody finally said it.
Vince Velasquez > Matt Harvey— xXxStArKiNs69xXx (@FanSince09) May 20, 2016
If we're going by FIP, Pelfrey (5.82) was, along with Jon Niese (5.98), the worst pitcher in the sport just a few days ago. And the Tigers fans... they can sense that.
Mike Pelfrey replacement in waiting https://t.co/gZqE2XOO5r— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 18, 2016
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Justin Verlander
Look at you go, Hellickson! Hellboy Prime powered through the Marlins in his last start, bumbling initially, but needing only 49 pitches to get through innings 2-5. He tosses a simple change-up, but it has worked well enough to be pivotal in his minor resurgence, one that has people recalling his Rookie of the Year days and analysts already plotting his trade value.
The fearsome Verlander was just celebrated for striking out 2,000 people in his career. He's gone deep in his last three starts, throwing at least 111 pitches in each. Only four earned runs crossed the plate in those three starts combined, as well, after Verlander started the year allowing far more - he let the Indians plate seven runs on May 3, putting his ERA at 6.49. But the last three starts he's made have shown that perhaps he's getting back into a most unfortunate groove for the incoming Phillies.
Aaron Nola vs. Anibal Sanchez
Just forget about that Nola start vs. the Braves. That didn't happen. Every young pitcher is allowed to delete one or two or however many we want starts from their record in order to aid their confidence. Okay? There. It's gone. What's gone? Exactly. Nola is going to be fine, he is going to navigate this lineup of very ancient, very real sluggers with skill, he is going to confuse and infuriate them with that curve and change-up, and he is going to be fine.
Sanchez is the Tigers' team leader in earned runs, home runs, and walks allowed. "Once Sanchez gets beyond 70 pitches, he's a ticking time bomb," writes Brandon Day on Bless You, Boys. All the Phillies need to do is be patient and make him work, something they have not really done with too much success thus far.
Editor's Note: FanDuel is SB Nation's exclusive daily fantasy partner. New players win cash in their first league or get their entry fee refunded! Offered in partnership with FanDuel. Here's the link.