In the fourth game of the spring for the Detroit Tigers, a late rally fueled by the youngsters fell just short.
Feb 28, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Matt Wisler (86) throws a pitch during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Joey Wentz Makes His First Start of the Spring
Joey Wentz, who last year had a very encouraging ending to his 2022 campaign, will look to compete for a spot in the starting rotation this year. The lefty did struggle with his command a bit, throwing only 22 0f 36 pitches for strikes.
Wentz’s secondary stuff worked well for him. He managed three swings-and-misses with his cutter, and one apiece with his changeup and curve. But he didn’t miss any bats with his fastball, even though it topped out at 95.3 MPH and averaged 93.6 MPH.
Updates on the Bullpen Battle
Alex Faedo made his first appearance of the spring, throwing a scoreless inning. Eight of his nineteen pitches were sliders, and he generally looked sharp. While he will more than likely start the season in Toledo, a strong spring might make him a bullpen option on the Opening Day roster.
Veteran free agent Matt Wisler made his first appearance of the spring, but he was called for an automatic ball before he threw a pitch and he struggled with his command. Wisler walked two batters, was called for a balk, and gave up one run. He’s a slider specialist, and 13 of his 20 pitches were breaking balls, but his velocity was down a bit and he only induced one swing-and-miss.
Jason Foley battled his way through an inning of work, looking pretty strong with his sinker maxing out at 97. He did give up one run, thanks to some poor defense and creative scoring. But he wriggled out a jam with a huge double play in the fourth to keep the deficit at three.
Pass the Maton
Newcomer Nick Maton led off the game with a six-pitch walk. He then went to third base on a Riley Greene single and scored on a Javier Baez sacrifice fly. Maton also showed some nice range and a strong arm in the bottom of the inning. He’s the early favorite to win the third base job.
The Tigers collected eight hits, with veteran infielder Cesar Hernandez picking up two knocks, including a double in the 7th. Detroit didn’t score again until the 8th, when a group of minor leaguers scratched together a three-run rally. Parker Meadows, a young outfielder Tigers fan will be watching closely, had a pinch-hit RBI double. Brendon Davis and Andrew Navigato brought in two more runs, and Andre Lipcius doubled to put the tying run in scoring position. But Gage Workman struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Balks are Back?
Another interesting takeaway from the game was the two balks called on the Detroit Tigers. Dan Dickerson made it a point to mention that MLB is encouraging empires to call more balks this season, which may be something to watch for.
The Tigers return to Lakeland on Wednesday to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 PM. Matt Manning is scheduled to make his spring debut.