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Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians series preview

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The Tribe, after a dominating pitching performance on the road in Houston, returns to Cleveland for their Home Opener against the four time defending Al Central champion Detroit Tigers.

The duo of J.D. and Victor Martinez actually outperformed Miguel Cabrera last year
The duo of J.D. and Victor Martinez actually outperformed Miguel Cabrera last year
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

As dominant as the Tribe pitching staff was in Houston, the Tiger staff was just as, if not more impressive in their opening series against the lowly Twins. They are tied with the Royals at 3-0, one game ahead of the Indians.

  • Friday's game is at 4:10 PM (Simon vs. McAllister)
  • Saturday's game is at 4:10 PM (Price vs. Kluber)
  • Sunday's game is at 1:10 PM (Lobstein vs. House)

Cleveland begins a very critical juncture on their schedule with this series. This is the first of six straight series against division rivals. The home stand will conclude next week with a short two game visit by the White Sox.

Division Watch: Twins at White Sox, Royals at Angels.

Team in a Box

Detroit Tigers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2014 Record

90-72

Runs/Game

4.7

2nd

Runs/Game

4.4

10th

AL Central

1st

OBP

331

1st

H/9

9.1

13th

Last 10

-

SLG

426

1st

BB/9

2.9

5th

Last 30

-

Steals

106

4th

SO/9

7.7

6th

As noted above, the Tigers just completed a sweep of the Twins to start the season. Their starters of Price, Sanchez and Greene allowed just one run, fourteen hits, three walks and 16 strikeouts. Their hitting has also gotten off to a quicker start than the Tribe. They scored 22 runs off the Twins staff while the Tribe mustered just seven runs.

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Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Alex Avila

L

457

218

686

97

1B

Miguel Cabrera

R

685

313

895

147

2B

Ian Kinsler

R

726

275

727

102

3B

Nick Castellanos

R

579

259

700

94

SS

Jose Iglesias#

R

148

259

654

102

LF

Yoenis Cespedes

R

645

260

751

109

CF

Anthony Gose

L

274

226

604

73

RF

J.D. Martinez

R

480

315

912

153

DH

Victor Martinez

S

641

335

974

166

C

James McCann*

R

460

295

770

-

OF

Rajai Davis

R

494

282

721

102

UT

Andrew Romine

S

273

227

554

56

IF

Hernan Perez*

R

596

287

735

-

# Stats from 2013, missed 2014 with injury; * Stats with Toledo Mud Hens

Heading into this season, this lineup was predicated on Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and the addition of Cespedes to be the heart of the lineup. Most, including me, felt that J.D> Martinez would regress back to something more of an average bat. But he has proven all of us wrong (albeit in just three games) as he has crushed two homers already. The addition of Gose is supposed to strengthen the defense, along with Cespedes arm in left. But his bat is definitely not a plus heading into this season. The return of Iglesias is also supposed to be a boost to the black hole that was shortstop last season.

The usual suspects based on their regular season stats dominated Cleveland pitching last year, with both Martinez's and Cabrera topping 1000 OPS versus Tribe pitching. The Martinez's each hit seven bombs with J.D. driving in 20 and Victor 15. The other two guys who excelled against the Indians were Avila, who topped 1000 OPS as well and Kinsler who drove in 13. In total the Tigers crushed 27 balls over the fence and scored 103 runs in the 19 meetings. Ouch.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

David Price

L

3.26

2.78

248.1

1.079

9.8

Anibal Sanchez

R

3.43

2.71

126.0

1.095

7.3

Alfredo Simon

R

3.44

4.33

196.1

1.207

5.8

Shane Greene

R

3.78

3.73

78.2

1.398

9.3

Kyle Lobstein

L

4.35

3.82

39.1

1.246

6.2

Joakim Soria

R

3.25

2.09

44.1

0.992

9.7

Joba Chamberlain

R

3.57

3.16

63.0

1.286

8.4

Ian Krol

L

4.96

5.18

32.2

1.684

7.7

Al Alburquerque

R

2.51

3.78

57.1

1.169

9.9

Tom Gorzelanny

L

0.86

2.99

21.0

1.429

9.9

Angel Nesbitt*

R

1.48

-

66.2

0.990

9.7

Blaine Hardy

L

2.54

3.49

39.0

1.385

7.2

* Stats with Toledo Mud Hens

The good news for this series is that the Tribe misses Sanchez. The bad news is our lineup will have to face both lefties over the weekend. Justin Verlander was hoping to start Sunday's game, but he hasn't progressed enough and was finally DL'ed. That is actually a break for the Tigers as the Tribe hit him very well in their five matchups last year.

Simon, to me, is their worst starter. His FIP is way higher than his ERA. And the Tribe hit him hard last year in their lone matchup. Price has always dominated the Indians. His only loss versus the Tribe was at the beginning of 2013. He won both starts last year, striking out 15 and allowed just 2 runs. Lobstein was one of the few no-names the Tribe actually succeeded against last year. But he is left handed, yikes.

Joe Nathan also hit the DL this week, after getting the last out in Price's opening day win. Alburquerque and Krol were the other two pitchers the Indians hit even harder than Nathan, hitting three homers off each.  That is a shame as the Tribe pounded him last year, seven runs in nine innings. Gorzellany, one of the new faces this offseason, looks great until you look deeper into his numbers. His FIP was 2 runs higher and he was just shy of a 1.5 WHIP.

On the Shelf

  • RP Joe Nathan [15 day DL], possible late April return
  • RP Bruce Rondon [15 day DL], possible April return
  • SP Justin Verlander [15 day DL], possible mid April return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

-

-

-

-

-

-

2014

8

11

421

87

103

423

Last 5*

37

55

402

364

490

367

Last 10*

82

101

448

805

932

433

All-Time

1050

1097

489

9592

9897

486

*Does not include 2015 stats

Prediction: The Indians crush Simon again to win the home opener. Kluber and Price duel, with Kluber this time getting the win, unlike against Keuchel. The Tigers pounce all over House as their lineup is very right handed and the Tribe struggles with the lefty. They take two of three.