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Series preview: Indians at Tigers (July 18-July 20)

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The Tribe open the second half of the season with a tour of the AL Central. First up will be the division leading Detroit Tigers, with a doubleheader squeezed in on Saturday.

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Tribe killer JD Martinez after hitting a three run homer off John Axford
Tribe killer JD Martinez after hitting a three run homer off John Axford
Jason Miller

Just before the All Star break, the Tribe wrapped up their longest home stand of the season with a visit from the White Sox. The schedule makers have designated July as division rival month as the second half opens with yet another three city road trip. This one will take place at each of the other division rivals, the TigersTwins and Royals. This weekend's visit to Detroit includes a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. This is to make up for the April 15 rainout. The Indians hope to trim some games off the 7.5 deficit in the standings.

  • Friday's game is at 7:08 PM (Bauer vs. Sanchez)
  • Saturday's first game is at1:08 PM (Kluber vs. VerHagen)
  • Saturday's second game is at 7:08 PM (McAllister vs. Scherzer)
  • Sunday's game is at 1:08 PM (Tomlin vs. Smyly)

Incredibly enough, the Indians have only been outscored the Tigers in the previous eight matchups, 46-42, with each team winning four times. They split that rain shortened series in Detroit in April, swept three games in Cleveland in mid-May, and then the Tiger's returned the favor in Cleveland in mid-June.

Division Watch: Royals at Red Sox, Astros at White Sox, Rays at Twins.

Team in a Box

Detroit Tigers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2014 Record

53-38

Runs/Game

4.8

1st

Runs/Game

4.3

5th

AL Central

1st

OBP

333

2nd

H/9

9.0

5th

Last 10

6-4

SLG

445

1st

BB/9

2.8

3rd

Last 30

20-10

Steals

61

5th

SO/9

7.5

12th

Does anyone else remember that beautiful series in May, where the Tribe swept them, including two walk-off wins? That started a month of mediocrity for the Tigers and they even slipped back to second place behind the Royals. But right after that slippage, the Tigers have done a complete 180. They returned to Progressive and swept the Tribe by the score of 21-12. Other than a minor slip against the Rays, they have been on fire, going 16-6 since last arriving in Cleveland.

They have righted the ship by becoming an offensive juggernaut again. They have gone from seventh to first in runs scored in those 22 games. They are only seventh in homers and just eleventh in walks, but lead the league in average (280) and OPS (778). The pitching has also improved, knocking off 0.2 runs/game in those past 22 games which has jumped them from ninth to fifth. They have also cut down on the walks, improving from fifth to third.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

C

Alex Avila

L

266

230

728

1B

Miguel Cabrera

R

387

306

898

2B

Ian Kinsler

R

405

303

806

3B

Nick Castellanos

R

329

262

701

SS

Eugenio Suarez

R

114

265

774

LF

Rajai Davis

R

279

296

770

CF

Austin Jackson

R

357

256

691

RF

Torii Hunter

R

317

272

744

DH

Victor Martinez

S

340

328

991

IF

Andrew Romine

S

157

217

536

OF

J.D. Martinez

R

205

346

1035

UT

Don Kelly

L

108

258

643

C

Bryan Holaday

R

87

278

642

While Hunter is identified as the starter, JD Martinez has essentially been splitting time with him, and outperforming him to boot. Suarez has stopped the revolving door at short for the time being. Victor, the Tigers MVP this season, hasn't played since Independence Day. He was hoping the All Star break would rest his ailing back, and even cost him his All Star appearance.

The Tiger offense has feasted on Indian pitching in 2014, with five guys all with an OPS over 1000. JD Martinez is tops at 1500, but only played in half of the games. Avila is second at 1318, followed by Victor at 1240, Kinsler at 1109, and Cabrera is only fifth at 1039. Those five have combined for twelve of the fourteen homers they have cranked this season.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

WHIP

K/9

Justin Verlander

R

4.88

129.0

1.457

6.7

Max Scherzer

R

3.35

126.1

1.172

10.4

Anibal Sanchez

R

3.04

94.2

1.035

6.7

Drew Smyly

L

4.00

87.2

1.369

7.2

Rick Porcello

R

3.39

119.1

1.182

5.1

Joe Nathan

R

5.61

33.2

1.515

9.4

Joba Chamberlain

R

2.63

37.2

1.142

9.6

Ian Krol

L

4.44

26.1

1.595

7.2

Al Alburquerque

R

2.91

34.0

1.206

10.1

Phil Coke

L

4.59

33.1

1.500

6.2

Blaine Hardy

L

2.13

12.2

1.105

9.2

Chad Smith

R

4.22

10.2

1.313

7.6

The Tribe opens this series against the true ace of the Tigers staff, Sanchez. He shut down the Royals just prior to the All Star game, but the Rays tagged him for seven runs before that. He has only given up three home runs all year and only appeared in the April series, taking the loss in a 3-2 game. He only allowed two hits and struck out eight. Drew VerHagen will get the call-up for the doubleheader (26th man). A fourth round pick in 2012, this will be his MLB debut. He has a 3.67 ERA in 19 starts in Toledo with a 1.287 WHIP and 5.1 K/9. Since his June 17 start against the Royals where he allowed 10 runs, Scherzer has been dominant. In 28 innnings, 19 hits, five runs, six walks and 35 strikeouts. That included the 9-3 win in Cleveland. He did get hit hard in the May series though, seven runs, 12 hits in seven innings.  Smyly has not been pitching well of late and took a loss in the May series.

The bullpen has been playing with fire all season, as Nathan, Coke and Krol all have WHIPs over 1.500. Only Chamberlain and Alburquerque have been consistent. Chamberlain has struck out 6 in his 4.2 of scoreless innings against us. But Krol (10.38 ERA), Alburquerque (8.10), Nathan (6.75) and Coke (5.06) have all been very iffy.

On the Shelf

  • LF Andy Dirks [60 day DL], possible August return
  • SS Jose Iglesias [60 day DL] , out for season
  • RP Bruce Rondon [60 day DL] , out for season
  • RP Joel Hanrahan [15 day DL], no defined timetable for return
  • RP Luke Putkonen [60 day DL], possible late August return
  • RP Patrick McCoy [15 day DL], no defined timetable for return
  • DH Victor Martinez [day to day], back irritation

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2014

4

4

500

42

46

458

2013

4

15

211

70

120

272

Last 5*

33

58

363

340

479

348

Last 10*

83

100

454

816

965

424

All-Time

1046

1090

490

9547

9840

486

*Does not include 2014 stats

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