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Down in Motown: Phillies vs. Tigers series preview

The Phillies travel to Detroit to take on the worst team in baseball

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians
Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers have seen better days
Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Before another showdown with the Braves, the Phillies will make a quick stop in Detroit to take on a Tigers team that is having a tough season.

Detroit Tigers

Record: 30-65, Fifth place in American League Central

The last time they met

Earlier this season, the Tigers came to Philadelphia for two games, which the teams split.

If you aren’t first, you’re last, and the Tigers are definitely last

The Tigers were still treading water at that point, but they’ve quickly plummeted in the standings since then. Things have been especially bad lately, with the Tigers winning just two of their last thirteen games. That stretch has earned the Tigers the worst record in baseball.

Team strengths? Um...

The Tigers aren’t a good hitting team, and are last in the American League in runs scored. Their pitching staff is ever so slightly better, ranking 13th in the AL in team ERA. This isn’t a team that’s suffered from bad luck, they’re just a poor hitting team with a bad pitching staff.

Everything must go?

Even bad teams tend to have some tradable pieces, and the Tigers are no exception. Starting pitcher Matthew Boyd is the best of a lousy bunch, and might serve as a good mid-rotation starter for a playoff contender. On the offensive side, there’s been speculation that Nicholas Castellanos could be shipped away.

Happy to go

It doesn’t sound like Castellanos would shed many tears if he was traded.

To face the “ace”

The Phillies will have to face the aforementioned Matthew Boyd on Tuesday. It should be noted that while he is not the worst pitcher on the Tigers staff, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good either. He’s been especially not good lately, and has given up four or more runs in each of his last six starts. He’s been prone to the home run ball, serving up ten of them across his past five outings.

If he wants out of Detroit, it would behoove him to pitch well, since Phillies general manager Matt Klentak will reportedly be in attendance to watch his performance.

An old friend

The other starter for the Tigers is a pitcher the Phillies are familiar with. You may remember Jordan Zimmermann from his days with the Nationals, where he was a solid starter, earning two All-Star berths.

Since moving to the AL, Zimmermann’s career has taken a bit of a downward turn. Now in his fourth season, his cumulative ERA with Detroit is a dreadful 5.52. And 2019 is shaping up to be his worst season yet. He’s 0-7 with a 7.51 ERA, and when those “Cy Yuck” awards are given out at season’s end, he figures to be heavily featured.

He’s also readily available at the trade deadline if any National League team thinks that returning to the NL will cure what ails him. I’m sure the asking price isn’t too high.

Miggy keeps rolling along

In June, highly-paid former MVP Miguel Cabrera had an uptick in his numbers that gave Tigers fans hope that maybe his final years (and there are still three more left in his deal!) wouldn’t be complete sadness.

Whatever got into Cabrera last month has apparently left him. He has a .531 OPS in the month of July, with only one home run and three RBIs in 13 games.

Hooray for the DH!

With the games in an American League stadium, we’ll get to see baseball played the right way: With the use of the designated hitter. I know that there are many traditionalists out there who get a special tingle when you see a pitcher get a base hit. Personally, I’d rather watch a competent hitter get those plate appearances.

Also, the DH is used at every level, and has been used in the AL since 1973, which means its been in place for the entire lifetime of most people reading this. So for all you “traditionalists,” the DH is tradition at this point. Deal with it.


The Phillies’ first ever win in the city of Detroit was on August 30, 1997. What pitcher earned the save in that 2-0 victory?


The Phillies don’t always take care of business against bad teams, but if they can’t win both of these, they don’t deserve to be in playoff contention.