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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Detroit Tigers

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The Brewers play their last AL opponent of the (regular) season

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

After a memorable sweep over the weekend in Cleveland, the Brewers look to finish off their AL Central road trip strong with a pair of games in Detroit.

We haven’t seen the Tigers since the end of May, right when the Brewers were starting to turn their season around after the trade for Willy Adames. In fact, one of his first memorable moments with the Brewers came against Detroit, when he hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the first meeting between these teams. That lead would prove to be short-lived (Detroit tied the game the next inning), but the Brewers went on to win that game in extra innings.

Since splitting those first two games with the Brewers, the Tigers have predictably struggled, although the Brewers’ sweep of Cleveland actually has Detroit just 2.5 games behind them for second place in the AL Central. Sure, the Tigers are still 8 games under .500, but at least they’re not the worst team in the worst division in baseball. They’ve also been solid at home this year, putting up a 37-36 record at Comerica Park.

The Lineup

Old Friend Jonathan Schoop has settled in as one of the biggest offensive threats for this Detroit team, putting together a legitimately solid .281/.320/.441 line with 20 home runs and 27 doubles so far. Detroit rewarded him by offering him something he hasn’t had for a few years: security. He signed a two-year extension with the Tigers in early August after the Tigers declined to trade him at the deadline. He’s earned it, having put up 1.4 fWAR so far this year and he’s on pace to put up his highest fWAR total since his last full year in Baltimore.

Jeimer Candelario is another guy who has settled into a comfort zone with Detroit over the last couple years. He comes into this two-game set hitting .275/.350/.449 with a team-leading 40 doubles and already has set a career high with 2.7 fWAR. The former Cubs prospect is also looking like a good bet to put together his second straight season with a wRC+ north of 115.

Robbie Grossman, who has never been thought of as much of a power threat during his journeyman career — with a career-high of 11 home runs coming into this year — leads the Tigers with 23 home runs this year. Another way to put the power surge into perspective: with 73 career home runs, 31.5% of Grossman’s home runs during his 9-year big league career have come this season.

The Probable Pitchers

Tuesday, 5:40 p.m. CDT - Freddy Peralta vs. Wily Peralta

IT’S PERALTA BOWL TIME. Our large Old Friend has found some success in Detroit this year after continuing to frustrate the Royals with the same flashes of potential but inconsistent performances we came to know too well between 2012 and 2017. Now 32, Wily Peralta has returned to starting full-time, putting up a 3.60 ERA so far this year — although his lack of strikeouts still means his FIP numbers leave plenty to be desired. His 44 strikeouts in 70 innings puts him in the bottom 5% of the league in K%, and he’s only in the 16th percentile in whiff rate this year. Since he’s not missing bats, the key for him this year has been avoiding walks (his 9.1 BB% is the lowest he’s put up since 2016) and a 52.5% groundball rate.

Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. CDT - Brandon Woodruff vs. Matt Manning

Manning was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2016 draft, going 9th overall out of high school. He made his big league debut earlier this year and this will be his 15th career start, but the first 14 have been a difficult learning experience for the 23-year-old righty. Like Peralta, he’s struggled to miss bats in the American League, only striking out 39 batters in his first 66 innings. He’s also walked 21 and given up 84 hits, meaning he’s had to deal with a lot of traffic on the bases with a 1.59 WHIP. The lack of strikeout stuff in the majors is a little confounding, considering he was striking out 10.02 batters per 9 in Triple-A before getting called up this year and had a 9.97 K/9 in his last full season in 2019 at Double-A. The combination of not missing bats and a lot of flyballs — unlike Peralta, Manning has been an extreme flyball pitcher with a 43.7% groundball rate this year — has led to a rather unsightly 6.14 ERA, although FIP likes him a lot better at 4.80.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Statcast