Cleveland Indians Series Preview: Detroit Tigers, August 27-September 1

LNGFT Victor Martinez - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a demoralizing visit to Hotlanta, the Indians head to the Motor City for their last shot at the division leading Tigers this season.

The Indians play the fifth of their last six series on the road with the season concluding set at the division leading Detroit Tigers. Friday and Saturday are scheduled for 7:08 PM starts with the Sunday finale at 1:08PM. The Sunday game is also the MLB.TV free game of the day. After the game, they head home for a nine game homestand with the Baltimore Orioles starting on Monday.

Scoreboard Watch:

Orioles at Yankees; White Sox at Red Sox; Twins at Rangers; Rays at A's; Royals at Blue Jays

Team in a Box

Detroit Tigers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2013 Record

78-56

Runs/Game

5.1

2nd

Runs/Game

3.9

2nd

AL Central

1st

OBP

348

1st

H/9

8.4

5th

Last 10

5-5

SLG

440

1st

BB/9

2.8

5th

Last 30

19-11

Steals

31

15th

SO/9

8.5

1st

*All stats except records are thru Wednesday's games.

We haven't seen the Tigers in almost a month since they swept four from us in Progressive. They have been muddling around .500 since then though, losing two of three to the Yankees and white Sox, then winning three of five from the Royals, losing two of three to the Twins, sweeping the Mets and losing three of four at home to the A's. Their offense is still rolling, first in average, on-base, slugging, OPS, total bases. They are dead last in steals, but when they hit that well, I don't think it matters much. The pitching has slumped a tad however. But they are still the top rotation in baseball front to back. And I believe they are well on their way to a record setting season for strikeouts for a staff. The fielding has been decent, third in percentage, eleventh in errors, and ninth in double plays.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

CF

Austin Jackson

R

486

268

340

413

103

RF

Torii Hunter

R

546

.308

343

474

118

3B

Miguel Cabrera

R

562

357

448

683

201

1B

Prince Fielder

L

592

262

348

432

110

DH

Victor Martinez

S

556

294

347

415

105

LF

Andy Dirks

L

399

253

322

361

85

2B

Omar Infante

R

368

318

345

441

111

C

Alex Avila

L

295

201

289

344

71

SS

Jose Iglesias

R

86

266

318

329

76

The unstoppable force that is Miguel Cabrera keeps rolling along (although he elft Thursday's game with an injury). He is hot on the trail for a back to back Triple Crown. The top five of this line-up are very dangerous. Victor, after an awful start, is hitting like he used to. I am still not sure why Dirks starts as much as he does when Matt Tuisasosopo (132 OPS+) is languishing on the bench. We will certainly see him when Kazmir pitches. The rest of the bench consists of Don Kelly (91), Ramon Santiago (62) and Brayan Pena (97).

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Aug 30

Rick Porcello (McAllister)

R

4.49

142.1

93

9.7

2.1

6.8

Aug 31

Anibel Sanchez (Kazmir)

R

2.61

144.2

160

7.6

2.7

9.8

Sept 1

Justin Verlander (Salazar)

R

3.73

178.2

112

9.0

3.3

8.5

We catch another break this series, by missing Scherzer again. But as poor as Porcello's numbers look overall, he has dominated the Tribe this year. In three starts and 19 innings, he has a 1.42 ERA, 0.947 WHIP and 19 strikeouts, winning two of the three starts. Likewise, Sanchez has also throttled our offense to the tune of 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings, 0.789 WHIP and 15 punchouts in two starts, winning one of them. Amazingly enough, Verlander has been the Tiger's worst starter against us this year. In four starts, he has a 4.32 ERA, 1.400 WHIP and 29 sit-em-downs in 25 innings. But he is 3-1 overall while pitching that poorly.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Joaquin Benoit

R

1.54

52.2

274

6.5

2.7

10.1

Jose Veras

R

2.77

55.1

150

5.9

3.3

8.5

Drew Smyly

L

2.25

68.0

187

7.1

2.0

9.4

Benoit has settled in a pretty dominant closer role and done very nicely for the Tigers. He has not blown a save opportunity yet and has three wins to go along with his 17 saves. He has four saves in eight games against us this year. He has allowed six hits, one run, one walk and struck out ten in 7.2 innings. Veras, after starting out as the Astros closer has become one of their set-up guys. He has one loss, one blown save and three holds in his 13 appearances since the trade. He pitched two perfect innings with one punchout against us in that last four game sweep. He also had one save against us when we played the Astros earlier in the year. Smyly has been the bullpen workhorse for Leyland, pitching 68 innings already. The Indians are one of the few teams to hit him this year. He has given up five runs in 7.1 innings, a 1.909 WHIP and only five strikeouts. He does have a win in relief in one of his six appearances. The other pen options are Al Alburquerque (86 ERA+), Bruce Rondon (110), Jeremy Bonderman (90) and Luke Putkonen (140).

On the Shelf

  • RP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) - 60-day DL, on AAA rehab
  • RP Luis Marte (right shoulder surgery) - 15-day DL, out for season
  • RP Bruce Rondon (lower back soreness - day-to-day

The Tigers have been remarkably healthy most of this season. Cabrera has not been 100% but his lower % is better than most others 100%. Avila was just activated from the DL recently as well.

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

3

13

188

59

103

265

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

1041

1084

490

9494

9777

487

*Does not include 2013 stats

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