Tigers and Tribe Set to Tango in Round Two
Bob Toth | On 01, May 2017
A different Cleveland team than the one they faced just a couple of weeks ago will arrive on the Comerica Park playing field this week as the Detroit Tigers host the Indians in a four-game set this week.
The Indians (14-10) wrapped up a much better homestand than their first of the season, which included a disappointing series against a Tigers club looking to make up for a horrendous effort against Cleveland last year. The Tribe went 4-2 on their homestand against Houston and Seattle and will return to the road where they are 8-4 after four series with three series wins this season.
The Tigers (12-12) have cooled off some after hitting their high water mark of four games above even after taking the series from the Indians in Cleveland. Since then, they have put together a pair of four-game losing skids. Back at the .500 mark after Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Chicago White Sox to end their most recent streak, Detroit is two games in back of the Indians in the AL Central but is in fourth place overall. They will look to build on a 7-6 home record and an 8-6 record against the Central Division this season.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Bauer will look to get above the .500 mark on the season after winning each of his last two decisions. He struck out a season-high eight batters his last time out in a victory over Houston. He allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings of work earlier this season to Detroit and owns a 4-4 mark in eleven games against the Tigers in his career with a 7.24 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP, although he is 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in three games at Comerica Park. Norris will face the Indians for the fifth time in his career and will look to build upon some impressive numbers against the Tribe. He is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 16 innings of work against them. He is coming off of back-to-back losses to Tampa and Seattle, allowing eight runs over eight and two-thirds innings combined in the two games after holding Cleveland scoreless over six two-hit innings.
Things continue to get better for Kluber after some rough starts to begin his season. Notoriously a slow starter in the first month of the campaign, he will look to start his May off the right way against a Tigers club he defeated in April. He has won his last three decisions and has completed six innings in all five starts this season. He struck out a season-high ten batters in his win over Houston last Thursday. He is 6-6 in his career against Detroit in 18 appearances (17 starts) with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. The Indians touched up Verlander the last time they saw him, tagging him for nine runs on eleven hits over four innings. Those struggles against the Tribe have been far more the norm for Verlander in recent years – he has not posted a winning record against Cleveland in a season since 2013 and has fallen to 19-22 in his career with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
The 30-year-old Carrasco has pitched better on the road throughout his career and this season is no different. He has won both of his road starts this year with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP with 15 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. He has struggled at times in the spacious Comerica Park in his career and does not have great numbers against the Tigers – he is 6-7 in 20 games with a 4.77 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. Boyd has not factored in the decision in either of his last two starts, despite allowing a combined five runs in the two appearances. His walk total has been a reason for concern as he has issued 13 free passes in 25 2/3 innings on the season. He also allowed two home runs in his last start against Chicago. He has given up just one run against Cleveland in two outings (10 2/3 innings) and earned his first win in his first career start against them in mid-April.
Salazar will wrap up the series with a getaway day start time. He is 3-4 in his career against the Tigers in 12 starts with a 4.58 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP and last lost to Detroit in 2015. He overcame a rough three-hits-in-three-pitches stretch in the first inning in his last start on Saturday against Seattle to last six and one-third innings while not allowing another hit in the contest. Fulmer, last year’s American League Rookie of the Year, debuted strong for the Tigers last season but struggled in his time against the Indians. The 24-year-old made four starts against them, going 1-2 with a 6.98 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. It marks his worst ERA against any of the 14 teams that he has faced in his young career.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports Detroit; MLB Network (5/4 – out of market)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 97.1 The Ticket (Detroit)
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Miguel Cabrera (1B) – 10-day disabled list (4/22) – right groin strain
JaCoby Jones (OF) – 10-day disabled list (4/23) – lip laceration (nine stitches); on rehab assignment
J.D. Martinez (OF) – 10-day disabled list (3/30) – mid-foot sprain
Detroit took two of three in Cleveland when the clubs met in mid-April to extend their all-time series lead to 1,114-1,072 in 2,198 games dating back to the 1901 season.
STRUGGLES WITH SOUTHPAWS
The Indians will face a pair of left-handers this week, which does not bode well for a club that has gone just 3-7 against southpaws this season already. That mark includes losses to both of the lefties that the Tigers will throw, Norris and Boyd.
Few Indians have put up good numbers against lefties this season, which helps to easily explain the problem. Edwin Encarnacion is just 4-for-27 (.148) against them with eleven strikeouts. Jason Kipnis has two hits in 13 at bats (.154) in limited action against them since his return from the DL. Switch-hitting Carlos Santana and Abraham Almonte are batting just .167 against them. Lefty masher Brandon Guyer has been slow to start in general, but the issues with lefties are clear as he has just five hits in 32 at bats (.156). Roberto Perez is 1-for-9 with a double and four RBI.
RAMIREZ REMAINS GOLDEN
Jose Ramirez’s strong 2016 season has continued on into 2017 as he has put up a .330/.388/.593 slash at the plate this season. He leads the club with 21 RBI and is second to Francisco Lindor with six homers and third to Lindor and Santana with six doubles.
Much of his production has come at Progressive Field, where he has put up a .455/.500/.773 line at the plate in a dozen home contests with five doubles, three homers, and nine RBI. On the road has been where he has shown the need for a little improvement as he has slashed .213/.275/.426 in opposing parks over a dozen games with a double, three homers, and nine RBI.
BRANTLEY IS BACK
Michael Brantley’s ten-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-4 against Houston on Thursday, but he picked up where he left off with a hit on Saturday and two more on Sunday against Seattle.
Since the start of his hitting streak, Brantley is hitting .352 with a .397 on-base percentage with three doubles, five homers, and a dozen runs knocked in. He owns a .336 lifetime average against Detroit in 99 games with 29 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 56 RBI. The hits and RBI are the most that he has hit against any one team in his career.
Cabrera will miss at least the start of the series with the Indians while resting on the 10-day disabled list with a right groin strain. He was able to take batting practice on Monday afternoon prior to the club’s contest with the Indians and is eligible to come off of the list this week if ready.
In 168 games in his career against Cleveland, Cabrera owns a .350/.426/.608 slash with 35 doubles, 43 homers, and 147 RBI.
YOU’RE THE WORST
A big cause for the rough patches for the Tigers in April was their pitching. They ended the month with some of the worst numbers in the game from the mound.
The staff’s 5.19 ERA as a team ranked dead last in the Majors and they are the only team with an ERA in excess of five. And it is not just a matter of runs allowed – there has been traffic on the bases all season long with their team 1.52 WHIP and .271 batting average allowed. A total of 33 homers have been hit off of Tigers pitching, second-most in the AL, and they have walked the third-most in baseball.
Their starting staff has the second-worst ERA in the league (4.48 – better than only Cleveland’s 4.78), but their bullpen is by far the worst in the game through April with a 6.43 ERA, a 1.69 WHIP, a .282 batting average against, and five blown saves.
BY THE NUMBERS
Alex Avila is 7-for-18 (.389) against Bauer with a pair of homers and three RBI. He is 5-for-15 (.333) against Carrasco with a double, a homer, and four RBI.
Justin Upton has been all-or-nothing against Kluber, going 5-for-12 (.417) against him with two doubles, three homers, and six RBI while striking out five times. He is just 2-for-12 (.167) against Carrasco with five strikeouts and 0-for-6 against Salazar with two walks and three strikeouts.
For the Indians, Almonte has hits in each of his last four games and has reached base safely in the last nine games. He was 6-for-10 (.600) against his former Seattle club over the weekend with a triple and two RBI.
Santana is 3-for-7 (.429) against Norris with one run batted in. He has hit just .217 against Verlander, but has taken him deep eight times, more than any other player in the right-hander’s career.
Lindor is 9-for-20 (.450) against Verlander with a homer and seven RBI. He is 3-for-5 against Boyd. He is also 3-for-9 (.333) against Fulmer with a double and a run batted in.
Encarnacion is 3-for-10 (.300) against Boyd with a double and a run batted in during the left-hander’s brief career. He has had little success with Verlander, going 3-for-26 (.115) with two homers and three RBI.
Lonnie Chisenhall is 13-for-40 (.325) against Verlander with two homers and seven RBI in his career. He has also fared well against reliever Anibal Sanchez, going 9-for-26 (.346) off of him with a double, a triple, and two RBI.
The Indians will continue their three-city road trip as they will start their first series of the season against the Kansas City Royals this coming weekend. The Tigers will hit the road for a west coast trip, with stops at Oakland, Arizona, and Los Angeles over the next nine games.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images