Cubs And Tigers In Similar Boats Heading Into Wednesday’s Interleague Affair
It's been many years since baseball fans and analysts thought of the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers as similar teams. The Cubs have been a disappointing doormat for years. Detroit's been a perennial AL Championship threat because they've done a good job of acquiring talent and putting it to good use.
Yet, entering the 2015 Major League Baseball season:
Chicago was projected to win about 82–83 games by the betting markets
Detroit was projected to win about 84–85 games by the betting markets
The Cubs were the hot new thing thanks to a change in management philosophy and some smart franchise–building moves. Detroit was drifting back to the pack because of age and the offseason loss of Max Scherzer. Many pundits were still picking Detroit to win the AL Central, while most assumed Chicago could only win a Wildcard out of the NL Central behind the St. Louis Cardinals. But…in the overall league standings, there was a good chance not much would separate these teams.
Entering this quick two–game Interleague matchup:
Chicago was 30–25
Detroit was 30–28
Not much separating the teams to this point. Though, a recent 8–game losing streak for the Tigers is the main cause. The teams had been generally tracking (or exceeding) pre–season until that surprising development. Detroit dropped a four–game set to the LA Angeles in Anaheim, then came home to lose three straight to the Oakland A's. Facing the struggling White Sox helped turn the tide…but beating the White Sox doesn't mean you've solved your problems!
Let's run JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats to get more context for this marquee Interleague matchup of historic franchises and potential 2015 playoff teams…
Chicago Cubs: 4.04 runs per game, .318 on–base, .385 slugging
Detroit: 4.12 runs per game, .334 on–base, .407 slugging
Don't forget that the Tigers get to use a Designated Hitter, while the Chicago Cubs don't except when visiting AL parks. Detroit's edges basically disappear when you account for that. In fact, the Cubs are better on a runs–per–game basis when you account for that! Neither has impressed with the bats…ranking in the bottom half of their respective leagues as offensive threats. Neither is much of a threat to win a championship unless they pick up the pace with the bats. Thus far in 2015…the teams are arriving at their similar won–lost records with similar strengths and weaknesses. YOU need to start thinking of them as similar teams!
Jake Arrieta: 3.04 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.5 K–Rate, 6.5 IP–per–Start
Shane Greene: 5.40 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5.7 K–Rate 5.4 IP–per–Start
Nothing similar about Wednesday's pitchers though. Worth noting that Arrieta has arrived at those numbers inconsistently. He either gives you 6–7 strong innings, or allows a few runs in 5–6 innings. He's likely to be a pitcher that shuts down poor offenses, but is more vulnerable vs. quality through the rest of the season. Treat him like an ace vs. lesser offenses…but be careful otherwise. That makes tonight's handicapping challenge interesting…because Arrieta clearly has much better numbers than Greene. The best of Arrieta could win a squash match here. The worst of Arrieta triggers an Over game that could go either way in terms of the team side victory. How much longer can the Tigers keep Greene in the rotation with those poor stats?
JIM HURLEY is looking very closely at this game for a possible play on either the side or total. But, games like San Francisco/NY Mets, Boston/Baltimore on ESPN, Seattle/Cleveland, and Kansas City/Minnesota are also very much on the radar. You can purchase the final word for Wednesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1–800–323–4453 during normal business hours. Don't forget to ask about combination packages that include the rest of the NBA Finals. And, it's never too early to talk to your representative about football!
Back to the baskets tomorrow as our NBA Finals coverage continues. A great mix of basketball and baseball coming up over the next several days here in the NOTEBOOK…
Thursday: NBA Game Four Championship Preview
Friday: MLB Interleague Series Preview…Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals
Saturday: NBA Game Five Championship Preview for Sunday's return to Oracle
Monday: MLB Interleague Series Preview…LA Dodgers at Texas Rangers
Tuesday: NBA Game Six Championship Preview (if necessary) or more MLB Interleague notes (all 30 teams in IL play next week!)
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