The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers fought for the Central Division last year. The Tigers won based almost solely on their record head to head with the Tribe. Tonight the two teams square off again in Cleveland. The two teams have squared off twice this season, splitting an early 2 game series. Yet, unlike last year, these two teams are seemingly playing different sports. One is winning (hint: Not the Indians) while the other is losing regularly (hint: the Indians).
Over the past 2 weeks the Tigers, 27 -12, have won 7 of 8 games while the Indians, 19 – 25, have lost 6 of 8. The Indians are struggling to score runs, while the Tigers, led by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, are scoring runs on top of runs. The Indians pitching staff has also struggled, with the occasional solid start, while the Tigers have given up 1 run or less in 4 of their current 6 game winning streak. Seems like a clear mismatch for this 3 game set, but we will look at a few positives.
The pitching matchups are interesting. The Tribe’s best starter so far this season, Corey Kluber, opens the set against youngster Drew Smyly who has pitched well over his last 4 starts. Kluber seems unfazed by big game situations and could right the ship for the Indians in the first game, setting the stage for a more competitive series then many expect. Trevor Bauer starts in game 2 against stud Justin Verlander. Bauer could look to make a statement and rise up to his competition but is also as likely to over throw and be out of the game in 3 innings. The series finale, 12:05 PM first pitch, matches up Cy Young Max Scherzer and Zach McAlister, a tough matchup for any pitcher.
The Indians bats have struggled but Tito Francona has juggled the lineup some in preparation for this series. Hopefully that will spark the bats with less pressure on Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana. Not having Jason Kipnis for the series will greatly hurt. The Tribe, at some point, will either respond to the need to press or will be out of contention and relax. The offense will need to explode, in the ways this offense can, to take some pressure off the starters and bullpen.
What are your hopes for this series? Can the Tribe win 2 out of 3? Will the Tigers dominate?