DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers will be facing a much better and more confident Miami Marlins team Tuesday than the one they beat twice to open the 2016 season.
And while Miami is on an uptick, Detroit is just ticked after getting swept for the third time this season by the Cleveland Indians this past weekend.
The Tigers have stiffened their bullpen in the last week but their rotation is rubbery. And the Marlins won’t face the pitcher who has been the most solid for the American League team over the last month — rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer.
Fulmer is getting extended rest for the next couple of weeks. He won’t start until this weekend at Tampa Bay after last pitching June 22 against Seattle.
Instead Miami will get a look at Mike Pelfrey, coming off his first relief appearance of the season, on Tuesday and lefty Daniel Norris on Wednesday.
Detroit is back at .500 (38-38) after dropping to 0-9 against Cleveland — which came after the Tigers swept the Seattle Mariners in a four-game set.
"It seems like big swings is how we’re playing," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said as Cleveland was pounding his team. "We win four in row, drop three in a row, win four out five, lose five out of six. Kind of been that way all year."
"I don’t believe that," Justin Verlander said Sunday when asked if he felt Detroit was a .500 team. "I think we are better than a .500 club. I think we showed flashes of it and we’ve shown flashes of not being very good. But I believe we are better than this. We just need to be a little more consistent."
Miami (41-35) is six games over .500 for the first time since June of 2012 after taking a weekend series from the Chicago Cubs.
"Quite honestly, I feel like we should be more than six games over .500 right now," manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com. "We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve had leads we weren’t able to, not necessarily hold, but hold from letting teams back into games."
Left-hander Adam Conley (4-4, 3.56 ERA) starts for the Marlins Tuesday after coming the closest any pitcher on his team has come to working nine innings. Conley worked eight innings of shutout, four-hit ball in his last start.
Conley has never faced Detroit. He is 2-1 with a 3.83 ERA on the road.
Pelfrey (1-7, 4.91 ERA) pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief last Friday and only allowed three hits in perhaps his best performance of the season. But in his most recent start, June 20, Pelfrey was tagged for six earned runs on 12 hits.
Pelfrey has a track record against Miami but it dates largely back to his seven seasons with the New York Mets as opposed to his time with Minnesota and now Detroit. He is 1-9 with a 5.40 ERA in 18 career starts against Miami.
And Giancarlo Stanton is 9-for-19 (.474) with two home runs, two doubles, three RBIs and one strikeout lifetime against Pelfrey.
The Marlins may be without outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who sat out Saturday and Sunday to rest a sore left wrist. Mattingly said there is no guarantee he’ll play Tuesday.
Miami’s infield has gone 26 straight games without recording an error dating back to May 30, which, according to STATS LLC, marks the most consecutive games without an error by an infield since 1913.
The Marlins have also committed a major-league-low three errors in June. The last error by a Marlins infielder was Derek Dietrich’s fielding miscue in a 7-3 win over the Braves on May 29. Ozuna’s error in Miami’s 4-2 victory over Chicago last Thursday marks the last error by any Marlins player.
"The defense has been really good," Mattingly said. "We seemed shaky early, but we really kind of hit our stride. Martin (Prado’s) unbelievable at third. (Adeiny Hechavarria), obviously, he’s been one of those guys on the Gold Glove list the last few years. Derek’s been solid. (Justin Bour) has been fine at first. We’ve been a pretty good defensive club, and we thought we would be."