The Philadelphia Phillies (52-48) have won five of their seven Interleague contests thus far in the 2019 MLB regular season.
The club will try to add to that winning record over the next two nights at Comerica Park as they take on the host Detroit Tigers (30-65) in Motown for a quick two-game set.
Back on April 30 and May 1, the Phillies and Tigers split another two-gamer. That one was held at Citizens Bank Park in what may have been a perfect microcosm of this 2019 Phillies season to date.
Four Detroit hurlers held the Phillies to just four hits as the Tigers won that opener by a 3-1 score. The very next night, the Phillies offense exploded for 15 hits in a 7-3 victory. It has been that kind of roller coaster year for a team that is now involved with a half-dozen other clubs in a chase for an NL Wildcard playoff berth.
The Tigers are not chasing anything, other than the top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Their record is the second-worst in all of Major League Baseball, just a few percentage points better than the Baltimore Orioles 31-68 mark.
The Tigers offensive attack and pitching staff both rank as next-to-last in baseball in key categories. Their hitters have produced just 3.65 runs per game. The pitchers have a combined .273 batting average against.
Frankly, this is a series that the Phillies need to sweep. The Tigers are down and out, already playing out the string with more than two months left on the schedule. However, as our look below at the starting pitchers who they will be throwing at the Phillies in this series shows, it won’t necessarily be an easy task.
TOP LINEUP THREATS
Nicholas Castellanos (27/RF): .284/.342/.480, 11 HR, 48 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs, 56 runs
JaCoby Jones (27/CF): .252/.317/.458, 20 HR, 27 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs, 31 runs, 6 steals
Brandon Dixon (27/1B): .255/.289/.476, 12 HR, 23 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 26 runs
Harold Castro (25/2B): .302/.315/.424, 2 HR, 10 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs, 13 runs (42 games, 147 plate appearances)
Niko Goodrum (27/UT): .245/.318/.407, 9 HR, 31 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs, 49 runs
Jeimer Candelario (25/3B): .218/.306/.371, 7 HR, 20 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 26 runs
Miguel Cabrera: The great Miggy has become somewhat a shell of his former MVP self as he ages with a losing ball club. Cabrera is slashing .283/.346/.373 with 18 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs. Basically, Cabrera can still hit, but he seems to have lost his power almost completely.
Cabrera has enjoyed a storied 17-year big-league career since debuting as a 20-year-old third baseman with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins back in June 2003. The young Miggy helped lead the Fish to their second World Series crown that year as a rookie, finishing fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Cabrera would go on to five consecutive NL All-Star Game appearances with the Marlins, winning a pair of Silver Slugger Awards at the hot corner and finishing 5th in NL MVP voting twice.
Then in December 2007, Cabrera was traded away to the Detroit Tigers along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis in exchange for a six-prospect package that included outfielder Cameron Maybin and pitcher Andrew Miller.
With Detroit, Cabrera would elevate his game to another level. He was an AL All-Star for seven consecutive seasons, and won five more Silver Sluggers. Cabrera was the American League Most Valuable Player in back-to-back seasons, edging out Mike Trout in both 2012 and 2013. In that 2012 campaign, Cabrera became the first AL triple crown winner in 45 years when he led the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average.
Now age 36, Cabrera still has four years and $124 million guaranteed on a contract that runs through the 2023 season. It’s a deal that likely makes him untradeable. That is especially so now that he has been diagnosed with chronic knee issues that will limit him almost exclusively to the Designated Hitter position.
SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS
TUESDAY – Matthew Boyd (28/LH): 6-8, 4.13 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.133 WHIP, 112 hits over 120 IP across 20 starts with a 160/24 K:BB. Boyd has become the subject of intense rumors as the trade deadline approaches. With three seasons of team control remaining, the southpaw would not come cheap. The Tigers would be looking for multiple young pieces to help in their rebuild. The Phillies have been seriously linked, and this appearance makes for an interesting showcase.
WEDNESDAY – Jordan Zimmermann (33/RH): 0-7, 7.51 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 1.686 WHIP, 76 hits over 56.1 IP across 12 starts with a 40/19 K:BB ratio. Zimmermann, who missed the bulk of the 2009-10 seasons while with the Washington Nationals after undergoing Tommy John surgery, had elbow pain earlier this year. That condition drove him to the IL, causing him to miss the entire month of May and much of June. Since returning he has not been good. Over his last three starts, the veteran has allowed 28 hits over just 11 innings with a 9/4 K:BB. His season results say that he won’t last long, won’t register many strikeouts, and is likely to be hit hard. He has faced the Phillies 16 times in his career, most of those with the Nationals, with a career 4.17 ERA and 1.316 WHIP in those outings. The Phillies have to hope that he doesn’t somehow turn back the clock to his 2013-14 NL All-Star past in this one.
Ron Gardenhire: The 61-year-old is a native of Germany, born to a U.S. military family stationed at Butzbach in what was then West Germany back in October 1957. He became a 6th round choice of the New York Mets in the 1978 MLB Draft out of the University of Texas, and played for the Mets over parts of five seasons from 1981-85, spending 1982 as their starting shortstop.
After his retirement, ‘Gardy’ was hired as a manager in the minor league system of the Minnesota Twins, serving there from 1988-90. He then served for 11 years as the Twins third base coach, after which Gardenhire was given his first shot as a big-league skipper by Minnesota in 2002.
Over 13 seasons he guided Minnesota to a 1,068-1,039 record and six division championships. It was nearly seven, as his 2008 club lost a one-game playoff to the Chicago White Sox after the two clubs finished the regular season in a tie for first. His first 2002 team lost the ALCS to the Angels in five games.
In April of 2014, Gardenhire became the 60th skipper in big-league history to win 1,000 games, just the 10th to do it with one team. However, over his final four seasons the team deteriorated to big losing campaigns, finishing in last place three times and ending his tenure.
Gardenhire spent the 2017 season as bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and during the season also underwent prostate cancer surgery. After the season was over he was hired to guide the Tigers rebuilding program in October 2017.
Gardnehire’s son, Toby, was drafted by the Twins in 2005 and rose through their system to the Triple-A level. After his retirement as a player, Toby Gardenhire was given an opportunity at managing. He is now skipper of the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Minnesota farm system.
Comerica Park: Opened in April 2000 to replace historic Tiger Stadium, the team’s previous home from its own 1912 opening, Comerica Park has a seating capacity of just over 41,000 fans. Tigers are everywhere you look. Not just talking about the players here. There are no fewer than nine statues of the animal spread around the ballpark, including a giant 15-foot tall cat at the main entrance and a pair of Tigers on the left field scoreboard whose eyes light up when a Detroit player cranks a home run.
Field dimensions are 345 and 330 feet down the left and right field lines respectively. It is a deep 420 feet out to dead-center field, 370 to left-center, and 365 to right-center field.
Nick Castellanos, a pending free agent who is a hot trade target as the deadline approaches, recently called the ballpark a “joke“:
“This park is a joke,” Castellanos said, per the Detroit News. “It’s to the point where how are we going to be compared to the rest of the people in the league in terms of power numbers, OPS, slugging and all that stuff when we got a yard out here that’s 420 feet straight across center field? I mean, they can move in center and right-center field. There’s no reason I hit a ball 434 feet off (Nationals right-hander) Anibal Sanchez and it goes in the first row.”
SERIES WEATHER REPORT
TUESDAY: There is a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms at the 7:10 PM EDT first pitch, but this will not be a rainout, nor should there be any significant delays, if any at all. Winds will be almost non-existent, and temps will drop from the low-70’s into the upper-60’s during the game.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny for the 1:10 PM EDT scheduled first pitch and throughout the game. Winds will remain light, and temps will range from the mid-upper 70’s.
Detroit, Michigan forecast from The Weather Channel
MLB TRADE DEADLINE UPDATES FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- Alec Bohm, Spencer Howard should be untouchable prospects as deadline approaches
- Phillies keeping close tabs on both Zach Greinke and Robbie Ray
- Hunter Pence, Ian Happ could be available as bench bats at the deadline
- Trade Cesar Hernandez? Okay, but to where and for what?
- Breaking down the Phillies trade deadline pitching targets
- Phillies reportedly interested in bringing back lefty reliever Jake Diekman
- Madison Bumgarner among potential Phillies pitching trade targets
- Marcus Stroman of Blue Jays recently scouted by Phillies
- Jackie Bradley Jr would make intriguing Phillies center field trade target
- 10 starting pitchers who are realistic Phillies deadline targets