Cleveland Indians Series Preview: Detroit Tigers, May 10-May 12

Yes, that's me, Miguel Cabrera - USA TODAY Sports

The Indians start a short five game road trip (with a quick detour home on Monday) with their first meeting with the division leading rival Detroit Tigers.

The Tribe heads to Michigan for their first 2013 tangle with the rival Tigers in Comerica Park. The three game set is scheduled for Friday May 10 and Saturday May 11 with 7:08 PM start times and a matinee on Sunday May 12 at 1:08 PM. After that, they will come home on Monday to make-up the rainouts from the April series with the Yankees by playing a doubleheader. Then they will head to Philadelphia for two games to complete their interleague series with the Phillies.

Team in a Box

Detroit Tigers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2013 Record

19-13

Runs/Game

5.3

4th

Runs/Game

3.8

3rd

AL Central

1st

OBP

350

1st

H/9

7.9

4th

Last 10

7-3

SLG

423

3rd

BB/9

2.8

6th

Last 30

18-12

Steals

12

13th

SO/9

9.9

2nd

The Tiger's lineup has two significant changes from last season, the return of Victor Martinez as the DH (with Delmon Young let go) and Torii Hunter replacing Brennan Boesch. They are in the lower third in home runs and have more caught stealing than stolen bases. The rotation has been very healthy this year, with nobody but the opening five taking their turns. All but Porcello have been above average with Verlander and Sanchez dominating. The bullpen is a bit of a mixed bag. The setup guys have been excellent, but the signing of Valverde is their latest attempt at a closer role and the long relief has not been great so far. Luckily they haven't had to use the long relief much due to the excellent starters. And as much as they got ripped for fielding in 2012, they currently sport only 11 errors (13th) and the second best fielding percentage in the AL.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

CF

Austin Jackson

R

156

282

342

387

96

RF

Torii Hunter

R

137

344

387

461

127

3B

Miguel Cabrera

R

151

382

457

595

181

1B

Prince Fielder

L

149

300

423

558

161

DH

Victor Martinez

S

132

217

273

292

52

LF

Andy Dirks

L

95

235

330

346

83

SS

Jhonny Peralta

R

133

317

364

417

110

C

Alex Avila

L

99

189

263

333

59

2B

Omar Infante

R

118

304

331

429

102

This lineup has been fairly explosive in 2013, leading the league in batting average and on-base percentage. Cabrera has picked up right where his triple crown season left off and Prince Fielder is also crushing it. Hunter has proved to be a significant upgrade, but Victor is really struggling at less than 60 OPS+. Avila has yet to return to his 2011 level. The only two holes in the lineup have been LGFT Victor and Avila. Matt Tuiasosopo could get some time in left, but he is the only bench player to be hitting well. With him and Dirks sharing left and former Royal Brayan Pena spelling Avila, the other two bench guys, Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago, have amassed only 71 plate appearances.

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

May 10

Max Scherzer (Kluber)

R

3.43

39.1

125

7.3

2.1

12.4

May 11

Justin Verlander (Jimenez)

R

1.55

46.1

275

7.4

2.5

9.7

May 12

Rick Porcello (McAllister)

R

7.52

26.1

57

11.3

1.7

5.1

Since coming over from the Diamondbacks in 2010, Scherzer has struggled against the Tribe. He is 5-4 in 11 starts with a 5.26 ERA. Since being the second overall pick in the 2004 draft (after Matt Bush), Verlander has set his career trajectory towards the HOF. But Cleveland is one of the few teams he has not fared well against. Lifetime he is 14-13 in 30 starts with a 4.55 ERA although they only have a 230/312/382 slash against him. However, Porcello has yet to live up to his first round pick billing with a career 92 ERA+. He has been efficient against the Tribe, 5-3 in 15 starts with a 4.10 ERA and just under 6 innings per start.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Jose Valverde

R

0.00

5.0

-

0.0

1.8

5.4

Al Alburquerque

R

2.08

13.0

208

6.9

6.9

15.9

Joaquin Benoit

R

1.76

15.1

244

4.7

4.1

11.2

After leaving as a free agent in the offseason, Valverde did not sign with anyone. The Tigers re-inked him in early April. He was scary good in 2011 and much more human in 2012. The Tigers planned on using a committee of Coke, Benoit and hotshot phenom Rondon, but now have Valverde in the role. 2012 was the first year the Tribe had any success against him. Alburquerque has been dominant in his career 9.1 innings against us, 0.00 ERA and 13.5 K/9. Benoit has always been a very solid set-up guy. 2011 was the last year we had any real success against him. The top lefties in the pen are Drew Smyly and Darin Downs who both have also been effective.

On the Shelf

  • RP Phil Coke (left groin strain) - 15-day DL, possible mid-May return
  • RP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) - 15-day DL, no return noted yet

Coke had an excellent 2012 but struggled this season before ending up on the DL.

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2012

10

8

556

68

83

410

Last 5

40

50

444

385

460

419

Last 10

91

92

497

855

922

466

All-Time

1038

1071

492

9435

9674

489

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