Phillies Should Clean Up Against Tigers in Rare Matchup

After taking three of four from the Marlins and having a day of rest for the first time since April 11, the Phillies welcome in the Detroit Tigers for a rare visit to Citizens Bank Park.

The Tigers aren't too far from the Marlins in terms of overall talent level. A split wouldn't be some big disappointment, but the Phillies should win both of these games.

When: Tonight at 7:05 p.m.; Pregame Live starts at 6:30

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Tigers without teeth

Bloated contracts and bad decisions have turned a once contending Tigers team into one of the worst in the AL. Miguel Cabrera is unfortunately a shell of the player he used to be. He can barely move on the bases or in the field. If he hits a ground ball, it's more often than not a double play no matter how softly it's hit. His power has been sapped.

Aside from Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos in the two-hole, there's no real threat in Detroit's lineup aside from a player who can hit a mistake. This Tigers team struck out 20 times on Sunday, 14 against White Sox righty Reynaldo Lopez, who is not a strikeout pitcher.

Plus, Cabrera might not play both of these games in the NL park. He has started only 10 of the Tigers' 26 games at first base and hasn't played the field on consecutive days since April 3-4.

The Tigers have scored just 91 runs this season, by far the fewest in the AL and a whopping 41 runs below the American League average.

Vinny Velo exceeding expectations so far

There are certain players Phillies fans have little patience for. Vince Velasquez, Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, even Adam Morgan despite his flawless 2019 season to date. When any of those players struggles, you hear about it often and loudly on the interwebs.

Velasquez has pitched very well this season but really hasn't received much credit from the fanbase. Through four starts, he has a 1.99 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a .195 opponents' batting average. He lasted six innings in only one of those starts, but he's kept the Phillies in each game, allowing no more than two runs.

If you could have told the Phillies before the season began that they'd get this kind of work from Velasquez through four starts but that he would average only 5.4 innings per start, they'd still gladly take it.

Velasquez's pace was incredibly slow in the first inning of his last start but he picked it up thereafter. He also displayed his excellent athleticism defending his position. 

This is a strikeout-prone Detroit team not used to seeing Velasquez. Should be another strong outing for him as long as he has his usual stuff and isn't off from a control standpoint.

Carried by the bats

The Phillies averaged just 2.9 runs in the 10 games Jean Segura missed. With him, they're just a completely different offense. His presence improves the Phillies in three spots: the two-hole, the five-hole with J.T. Realmuto returning there and the eight-hole because it means Maikel Franco can hit in the spot where he's been best this season.

The Phillies have four different players with at least 18 RBI. They have four different players with at least five home runs. 

Most impressively, they have an OPS of at least .789 from six of their eight starters. The only NL team that has more players with an OPS that high is the Braves.

Rhys Hoskins' 1.005 OPS leads the team. If he has a good game tonight, he'll be the first Phillie to enter May with an OPS over 1.000 since Raul Ibanez in 2009.

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