Since the Phillies don’t play American League Central teams very often, I am usually unfamiliar with many of their players, and the Detroit Tigers are no exception. Scanning the roster, there aren’t many names I recognize, but at first I wasn’t sure if that’s because I just don’t see them play very often, or because they aren’t especially good. Upon closer inspection, I’m leaning towards the latter.
Record: 12-14, Third place in American League Central
Phillies vs. Tigers: The rivalry
The first Phillies-Tigers match-up came in 1997, which was not a particularly good year for the Phillies.
Get ready for this week's Phillies-Tigers series by checking out the juggernaut that Francona rolled out for their first ever matchup— Franzke & LA (@FranzkeLA) April 29, 2019
Also this year's team already has a third of the wins in 28 games that the '97 squad did in 129 games jeezes pic.twitter.com/AUO1JuKfT5
Since then, there haven’t been many meetings, as this will be only the seventh series between them. This will be only the third time the Tigers have come to Citizens Bank Park, and the first appearance here since 2007.
As far as recent history goes, in 2016, the Phillies visited Comerica Park and lost two out of three games to the Tigers.
The 2019 Tigers: A brief summary
The 2018 Tigers finished with 98 losses - which was somehow good enough for third place in the AL Central - and weren’t predicted to be much better in 2019. Most projections had them losing 90+ games and finishing near the bottom of the Central. With that in mind, their current 12-14 record doesn’t seem too bad.
The record is boosted by a hot start to the season in which they went 7-3. But things seem to be evening out, and they enter this series having lost four games in a row.
Who are these guys anyway?
As mentioned, there aren’t a lot of household names on the Tigers’ roster. I don’t see the Tigers play very often, but you’d think I would have heard of some of these guys. John Hicks? JaCoby Jones? Ricky Bryson? Jeimer Candelario? (Note: I only made one of those names up.)
There’s a name I know!
Miguel Cabrera is still around, but I don’t know if it can be said that he’s still going strong. The two-time MVP winner isn’t a complete embarrassment at the plate, but his power seems to have abandoned him. He only has one home run this season, coming after an injury-shortened season where he was limited to three.
At age 36, he’s probably nearing the end of his career, so the Tigers will be able to part ways with him soon. Taking a closer look, it appears that he’s still under contract for FOUR MORE SEASONS AT OVER $30 MILLION PER SEASON! HOW? WHY????
Seriously, I realize that Cabrera was arguably the best hitter in the game a few years ago, but there was nothing about him that said, “This guy is going to age gracefully.” Remember, this is a player who the Marlins traded because they were worried about his weight 12 years ago. I realize that the Marlins never met a bad trade they didn’t like, but that doesn’t mean the Tigers should have signed an overweight power hitter through his age 40 season.
The contract apparently has two vesting options, so there’s the possibility that he could be under contract until he’s 42. Then again, those vesting options hinge on him finishing in the top ten of the MVP voting, so the Tigers are probably in the clear there.
In case you were wondering, Cabrera is totally “sorry, not sorry” about how much he’s getting paid. And I don’t really blame him. If someone offered me $30 million a year to do something, I’m going to take that money and not feel too bad about it.
The Tigers are going to send Tyson Ross and Spencer Turnbull against the Phillies. Ross is a journeyman back-of-the-rotation starter, who surprisingly made the All-Star team once. This will be his fourth career start in Citizens Bank Park. The most recent two were solid, but his first appearance in Philly saw him give up six earned runs in 2⁄3 of an inning. Turnbull is young, and off to a decent start to the season, but he hasn’t shown the ability to pitch deep into the game.
Shane Greene: Future Phillie?
The Tigers’ closer is Shane Greene. Like most Tigers, he isn’t well-known, but he’s having an excellent year. In 13 appearances this season, he’s only allowed runs in one of them. Most times he comes into the game, he doesn’t even allow any base runners (Nine total men on base in 13 innings).
With the Tigers unlikely to be in the playoff race this season, Phillies’ general manager Matt Klentak might want to keep Greene in mind around the trade deadline.
Mean Jean, the Tiger beating machine
Most of the Phillies don’t have much of a history against the Tigers. One exception is former American Leaguer Jean Segura who has played eleven games against them in his career. Those eleven games have largely been successful, with a .367 batting average and two home runs.
In the aforementioned first game played between the Phillies and Tigers, the Tigers emerged victorious. Which former first round draft pick took the loss for the Phillies?
The Phillies have heated up, while the Tigers have cooled down. This seems like a great opportunity to pick up two wins heading into a tougher portion of the schedule.