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Rock bottom avoided: Phillies vs. Tigers series preview

With another weaker opponent coming to town, the Phillies need to take advantage

MLB: Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers
As expected, Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers have not been good this season
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

After watching Zack Wheeler get pounded by the Nationals’ no-name lineup on Friday, it felt like the Phillies were coming close to rock bottom. At least they fought back in that game, even though it ended in a loss. That effort carried over into the weekend when the Phillies won the final two games of the series.

But beating the Nationals is kind of the Phillies’ thing. Let’s see if they can continue their winning ways against a different opponent, even if that different opponent isn’t very good.

Detroit Tigers

Record: 26-31, Second place in American League Central (3.5 games back)

The manager

A.J. Hinch is most famous for managing the 2017 Houston Astros, who gained a minor bit of notoriety for that whole banging on trash cans thing. Despite winning two pennants with the Astros, he was offered up as a sacrificial lamb to be fired.

We saw just how little any of the powers that be actually cared about any of that when Hinch was hired a season later by the Tigers. Hinch hasn’t had much success with the Tigers, but he wasn’t really expected to, considering how little talent they’ve had on the team the past few years. Avoiding last place finishes the past two years is actually pretty impressive.

The last time they met

They played a pair of home-and-home series in 2019. The Tigers won the first game, with the Phillies taking the final three.

What’s the deal with the Tigers?

The Tigers rank near the bottom of the American League in most offensive categories and there are very few - if any - players to be scared of in their lineup. (I said something similar about the Nationals, and that didn’t stop them from teeing off on Zack Wheeler.)

Pitching wise, the picture isn’t much rosier, mostly because Tigers pitchers rarely strike batters out. (Once again, I’d like to think this will continue against the Phillies, but there are some games when the Phillies appear determined to strike out.)

They’re also coming in cold having been swept by the White Sox over the weekend.

Miggy’s last hurrah

Believe it or not, we’ve come to the final season of Miguel Cabrera’s contract, and likely his career. He does have a vesting option that kicks in if he finishes in the top 10 in MVP voting this season, but based on his performance thus far, that seems rather unlikely. (Voters should go ahead and vote for him, just to mess with the Tigers.)

Everyone said that contract would age poorly, and it definitely has, but I suppose there’s something to be said for a team honoring one of its all-time greats by giving him a legacy contract.

It’s been said that Cabrera is the last active player to have played at Veterans Stadium. Can anyone confirm?


Carson Wentz was injured when the Washington Commanders played in Philadelphia last season, and since he’s not currently on an NFL roster, this upcoming start by Tigers pitcher Joey Wentz (no relation) may be the closest Philadelphia fans will ever get to being able to give Carson the “hero’s return” that they would like to.

Joey Wentz might be having an even worse season than Carson had in 2022. He has an ERA of 7.28 and rarely even makes it into the fifth inning. (Not sure how good Joey’s pocket presence is, however.)

I offer my usual caveat that the Phillies are very capable of making Wentz look a lot better than he has so far this season.

Catching up with Nick and Matt

After the Phillies traded Nick Maton and Matt Vierling to the Tigers in exchange for Gregory Soto, there were some people who thought the Phillies got fleeced in the deal.

That thinking didn’t make sense at the time because there was no obvious path to playing time for either man. And it makes less sense now. Soto has had a few awful appearances for the Phillies, but for the most part, he’s been another solid arm that the team can deploy in the late innings.

On the other hand, despite the Phillies’ issues with depth at certain positions, neither Vierling nor Maton have given the team any reason to think that things would be better if they were still here. Maton is batting .166 and fans are wondering why he’s still playing.

Matt Vierling actually isn’t playing since he’s on the Injured List with a bad back. He wasn’t tearing things up before he was injured, with his OPS on the season at a mere .649.

Smarty’s tournament of randomness

Now that Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play easily defeated Grimace, the first round of the tournament is complete! That brings us to our first matchup of the second round:

#3 Cadbury Creme Eggs

Some say these can only be eaten around Easter time, but why? Deliciousness should be a year-long thing! Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a clucking rabbit?

#6 Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play

Eric Bruntlett wasn’t a good player with the Phillies, but context matters. Because of this play and by being a member of the 2008 team, he’s well thought of by fans.

Cast your vote as to who you want to see advance!


Who should advance: Cadbury Creme Eggs or Eric Bruntlett?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    #3 - Cadbury Creme Eggs
    (13 votes)
  • 85%
    #6 - Bruntlett’s triple play
    (78 votes)
91 votes total Vote Now


Last series’ answer: Seranthony Dominguez hadn’t given up a run at Citi Field in his five previous appearances, and he extended that streak to six last week. MDog13 got it.

This series’ question: EDIT: I’m not sure what the heck I was looking at, but as it turns out, only one Tigers player has ever had a multi home run game against the Phillies, and he has never played for them. Sorry for the confusion!

Closing thought

Another weak opponent should be another opportunity for the Phillies to pick up some much-needed wins. The formula of strong starting pitching combined with multi-run home runs seems like a good one, so hopefully they can continue to do that.

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