Indians-Tigers Series Preview
Indians-Tigers Series Preview
The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers begin a three-game series Tuesday Night that could play a huge role in shaping early dynamics in the American League Central race. Detroit finished the weekend 6-4, sitting in first place despite relatively disappointing offensive numbers out of the gate. Cleveland had the same number of wins, but three more losses. That 6-7 record had them in fourth place in a division (and league) where many teams are within arm’s reach of the .500 mark.
Cleveland was a surprise Wildcard last year. They sure don’t want to fall too far behind Detroit right off the bat in 2014. A deficit of 1.5 games in the standings would turn into 4.5 games if they got swept here. Detroit wants to send a message to the Tribe and the rest of the Central that this is their division once again, and nobody should start getting any ideas!
Let’s take a quick look at offensive production so far. Then we’ll run the probable pitchers for the series.
Cleveland: 4.69 runs per game, .331 on-base, .381 slugging
Detroit : 4.00 runs per game, .307 on-base, .406 slugging
Detroit’s scored exactly 40 runs in their 10 games, so the math is easy there. They’re still slugging well. But, not enough guys are getting on base before the big blows. Cleveland is either about average or above average in everything that matters (with a particular strength for getting on base so far). They’ll need to find a rotation that can produce consistently if they want a return trip to October baseball.
McAllister: 2.31 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.5 K-Rate
Sanchez: 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.0 K-Rate
Zach McAllister had a very strong opening at home against punchless San Diego. But, he struggled on the road at Oakland, lasting only four innings before getting knocked out. With only two starts, the shutdown of San Diego carries more weight in the full-season stats. He’s really just 50/50 to pitch well. Anibel Sanchez has only pitched 9 innings total over his two starts. His control has been off, creating very high pitch counts. Both of those pitchers have been less impressive than their ERA’s would suggest, at least in terms of projecting what would happen vs. their opposing offenses Tuesday.
Salazar: 6.75 ERA, 1.93 WHIP, 13.5 K-Rate
Smyly: 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 9.0 K-Rate (in two relief appearances)
Danny Salazar did something amazing in his last start vs. the Chicago White Sox. He only lasted 3.2 innings, but struck out 10 hitters! That’s 10 of the 11 outs coming on strikeouts. Clearly he was in trouble when hitters made contact. That ERA and WHIP are atrocious. Drew Smyly hasn’t made any starts yet. He’s #5 in the rotation…and the team’s schedule was spaced out in a way that the Tigers only needed to use their first four starters to stay on rotation out of the gate. He’s made two appearances in long relief where he lasted three innings each.
Masterson: 5.87 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 8.8 K-Rate
Verlander: 2.57 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.6 K-Rate
It’s the battle of Justin’s! Masterson got rocked his last two starts (Minnesota and CWS) after opening very strong at Oakland. Oakland is a pitcher’s park though, which may have given him quite a boost given what’s happened since. Verlander has been consistent, allowing exactly two runs in each of his three starts. His K-Rate has taken a huge hit though. He did get 8 K’s in San Diego the last time out, but that was in a pitcher’s park against a struggling offense. Keep monitoring Verlander’s K-rate as the season progresses. (Note that this is an early start on Thursday afternoon)
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Back with you Wednesday to either preview an important NBA season finale, or the Seattle/Texas baseball game that will feature Felix Hernandez vs. Yu Darvish. Either a duel for a berth in the NBA playoffs, or a pitcher’s duel! After that:
Thursday: MLB Series Preview for St. Louis at Washington
Friday: Early look at Saturday’s NBA Playoff openers
Saturday: Early look at Sunday’s NBA Playoff openers
Sunday: MLB Sunday Night Preview of Baltimore at Boston
Monday: NBA Playoff Previews
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