Sports Baseball

On Deck: Blue Jays at Tigers

By Donald Duench, Toronto Sun

Mikie Mahtook of the Detroit Tigers. (DENIS POROY/Getty Images)

Mikie Mahtook of the Detroit Tigers. (DENIS POROY/Getty Images)

TORONTO BLUE JAYS at DETROIT TIGERS

Probable starting pitchers

FRIDAY 7:10 p.m.
RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-2, 4.85 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (5-6, 4.73 ERA)
Verlander’s WHIP the past three seasons: 2015: 1.09; 2016: 1.00; 2017: 1.52. He has only one win in his past eight starts.

SATURDAY 6:10 p.m.
LHP Francisco Liriano (5-4, 5.56 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Fulmer (9-6, 3.19 ERA)
Fulmer was chosen for the AL all-star team, but couldn’t play because he pitched Sunday. In that start, on Sunday Night Baseball, he got the win against Corey Kluber and the Indians. Fulmer is 3-0 in his past three starts.

SUNDAY 1:10 p.m.
RHP Marco Estrada (4-6, 5.17 ERA) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 5.89 ERA)
Hey Blue Jays fans, you rarely saw an A. Sanchez pitch in the first half, now you get two in the same series! This one began the season in Detroit’s bullpen, went to triple-A to stretch out, and is 1-0, 3.09, 0.86 WHIP in his four MLB starts in 2017.

TOP 3 STORYLINES

1. First domino has fallen
The trade which sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday is the “Gentlemen, start your engines” for MLB general managers as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Both Toronto and Detroit are far back in their respective divisions and wild-card races. Expect scouts from contending teams to be looking at players on both clubs this weekend.

2. Upton Funk
Detroit outfielder Justin Upton was the only member of the Tigers to play in the all-star game (Michael Fulmer was chosen, but unavailable). Upton had a hit in two at-bats, but made his biggest contribution in the bottom of the 10th with a lunging catch to take away an extra-base hit from Corey Seager of the NL.

3. Don’t tread on me?
MLB may have been quiet on Wednesday, but Comerica Park wasn’t. There was a Metallica concert at the home of the Tigers that day, with the stage and spectators in the outfield. The teams will find out Friday whether the outfield grass was affected.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

3B Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
A slump from June 14 to July 4 dropped his batting average from .315 to .238, but he was hot at the plate in the series against Houston, going 6-for-10 with a homer and six walks. Which Bringer of Rain shows up in Detroit?

OF Mikie Mahtook, Tigers
The Blue Jays are familiar with Mahtook, who played for Tampa Bay in 2015 and 2016. Mahtook has turned it on since he started getting regular playing time, hitting .347 since June 1.

DUENCH'S TAKE

When Metallica played Enter Sandman on Wednesday at Comerica Park, it was as close as the Tigers (with their league-worst bullpen) are going to get to a Mariano Rivera moment. Blue Jays win two of three.