Cleveland Indians series preview: Detroit Tigers, July 5-8

Jason Miller

The Tribe has a key series against the Tigers, AL Central favorites who hold a slim lead over the Indians heading into the weekend.

After a series in Kansas City that fell apart because the Indians bullpen isn't very good, the Tribe begins a 10-game homestand that will take them to the All-Star break with four big games against the 1st place Tigers. The series kicks off at 7:05 Friday night, continues with a 4:05 game on Saturday and 1:05 start on Sunday, and concludes Monday night with another 7:05 start.

The last time these two teams played, it was a bottoming out point for the Tribe. The Indians were swept in Detroit four weeks ago, dropping them 5.5 games back of first place. Since that series ended though, the Tribe has gone 15-8, briefly taking over the top spot in the Central and sitting 1.5 games back entering tonight's action.

Team in a Box

Detroit Tigers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2013 Record

46-38

Runs/Game

5.04

2nd

Runs/Game

4.07

5th

AL Central

1st

OBP

.348

2nd

H/9

8.4

3rd

Last 10

4-6

SLG

.432

3rd

BB/9

2.7

5th

Last 30

16-14

Steals

24

15th

SO/9

9.2

1st

*All stats through Thursday, July 4th's results

After sweeping the Indians in early June, the Tigers stumbled for three weeks, going 8-12. They're coming off three straight victories in Toronto though, games they won by an average score of 8-3. It's a mistake to put too much emphasis on any one series before the All-Star break, but the Indians can ill afford to lose contact with Detroit if they hope to contend for the AL Central crown.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

CF

Austin Jackson

R

256

296

376

420

114

RF

Torii Hunter

R

345

303

344

413

103

3B

Miguel Cabrera

R

383

364

454

670

197

1B

Prince Fielder

L

379

270

364

463

121

DH

Victor Martinez

S

349

235

289

346

70

SS

Jhonny Peralta

R

332

307

366

440

118

LF

Andy Dirks

L

277

242

304

345

75

2B

Omar Infante

R

309

309

340

447

110

C

Alex Avila

L

201

177

270

309

55

Miguel Cabrera has been even better so far in 2013 than he was last season, when he won both the Triple Crown and American League MVP award. The lineup has a number of other dangerous hitters though, especially from the right side of the plate. Proceed carefully.

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

July 5

Rick Porcello (Masterson)

R

5.21

86.1

82

9.8

1.8

7.1

July 6

Anibal Sanchez (Carrasco)

R

2.76

81.2

156

7.8

2.5

11.1

July 7

Doug Fister (Kluber)

R

3.80

109.0

113

9.5

1.4

6.9

July 8

Max Scherzer (Kazmir)

R

3.09

116.2

139

6.2

2.0

10.7

Porcello had a great stretch from late May to mid June, but has not been as sharp in his last three starts. He has faced the Indians twice in 2013, each time allowing two runs in six innings. Sanchez will be making his first start in three weeks and will be on a pitch limit (likely of 80 or so). He was arguably the AL's best pitcher in 2013 before the injury. Fister allowed 3 or fewer runs in 12 of his first 14 starts, but has given up 6 in two of his last 3. Neither Sanchez or Fister has faced the Tribe yet in 2013. Scherzer has been one of the AL's best pitchers. he's the first starter to begin a season 13-0 since Roger Clemens in 1986 and is a leading candidate to start the All-Star Game. He's faced the Indians twice in 2013, throwing 8 innings each time and allowing just 2 hits on May 21st.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Joaquin Benoit

R

1.78

35.1

242

6.6

2.5

11.2

Al Alburquerque

R

2.25

20.0

193

6.3

8.6

14.9

Drew Smyly

L

2.12

51.0

203

6.5

2.5

9.4

Jose Valverde was designated for assignment last week and accepted a trip to Toledo. He expects to be back in Detroit shortly, but that remains to be seen. Benoit, the team's best reliever, has moved into the closer role. That BB/9 for Alburquerque is not a typo. Other current bullpen members are Phil Coke (LH, 24.1 IP, 69 ERA+), Darin Downs (LH, 31.0 IP, 93 ERA+), Luke Putkonen (RH, 18.2 IP, 151 ERA+), and Bruce Rondon (RH, 4.2 IP, 60 ERA+).

On the Shelf

  • RP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) - 60-day DL, possible July return
  • SP Anibal Sanchez (strained shoulder) - 15-day DL, scheduled to return Saturday
  • UTL Matt Tuiasosopo (strained intercoastal) - 15-day DL, could return this weekend

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

2

6

250

33

52

303

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

1040

1077

491

9468

9726

488

*Does not include 2013 stats

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