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Series preview: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

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The results in Toronto were not totally unexpected. But now, with their slimmest of slim playoff lives hanging in the balance, the Tribe continues this road trip with a visit to their division nemesis, the Detroit Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, two of the Tribe's toughest rivals
Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, two of the Tribe's toughest rivals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Tribe heads to Detroit in severe need of their CPR paddles to be charged back up. Unfortunately, the Tigers have not been willing to provide any juice except for some of the rancid grapefruit kind as they have beaten the Indians nine of twelve times this season. This is the start of eight straight series against division foes.

  • Friday 7:08 PM: Corey Kluber (R) Ryan vs. Kyle Lobstein (L)
  • Saturday 7:08 PM: Josh Tomlin (R) vs. Alfredo Simon (R)
  • Sunday 1:08 PM: Danny Salazar (R) vs. Justin Verlander (R)

The Upcoming Schedule: This road trip concludes with the White Sox. Then the Tribe is home for eleven straight games against the Tigers, Royals and White Sox.

Playoff Watch: White Sox at Royals, Orioles at Blue Jays, Twins at Astros, Rays at Yankees, Rangers at Angels, Mariners at A's.

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Team in a Box

Detroit Tigers

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2015 Record

61-72

Runs/Game

4.4

6th

Runs/Game

5.1

15th

AL Central

5th

OBP

328

2nd

H/9

9.4

13th

Last 10

2-8

SLG

428

3rd

BB/9

3.0

13th

Last 30

11-19

Steals

73

5th

SO/9

7.0

13th

The Tribe's struggles with the Tigers started with the opening home stand when they swept all three games 8-4, 9-6 and 8-5. Then in Detroit two weeks later, the Indians destroyed Shane Greene 13-1, before losing the series 4-1 and 8-6. The home and home in June wasn't much better as the Tigers took two of three in both instances. In Detroit the Tigers won 4-0, lost 5-4 and won 8-1. Back in Cleveland, they won 8-5 and 7-3 before falling 8-2.

But since those June confrontations, the Tigers have been in a free fall. They slipped to 0.500 at the All-Star break and then were sellers at the July trade deadline. They have won just two of their last twelve ball games, with the Rangers, Angels, Blue Jays and Royals doing the damage.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

James McCann

R

346

258

680

85

1B

Miguel Cabrera

R

415

361

1047

186

2B

Ian Kinsler

R

575

306

810

124

3B

Nick Castellanos

R

496

252

732

99

SS

Jose Iglesias

R

454

300

717

98

LF

Tyler Collins

L

134

271

704

90

CF

Anthony Gose

L

426

256

690

90

RF

JD Martinez

R

540

287

899

144

DH

Victor Martinez

S

409

235

646

73

OF

Rajai Davis

R

302

241

688

86

C

Alex Avila

L

182

173

568

67

UT

Andrew Romine

S

132

242

617

68

C

Bryan Holaday

R

50

260

640

71

SS

Dixon Machado @

R

560

260

644

88

@ stats in AAA

The major change to the lineup is the trade of Yoenis Cespedes. Collins and Davis have spent the most time in left since that deal. We will also likely see Machado or Romine at short as Iglesius hurt his finger last night in a bunt attempt.

The lineup features three great hitters in Miggy, J.D. and Kinsler. Everyone else has basically been subpar this year. And yet they are in the upper third in a lot of offensive categories because of those three.

In a surprise to absolutely nobody, Miggy has feasted on Tribe hurlers this year. He has a video game like 619/673/1024 slash. Yes, a 619 average. He has five of the Tiger 14 home runs and driven in 16 of the 71 runs. [Please Francona, walk him ... every ... single ... time.] J.D. Martinez has been the other thorn. He has a 262/311/595 line with four homers and 12 RBI. Davis and Romine have 1150 and 927 OPS respectively. McCann, Gose and Castellanos all have struggled, with sub-600 OPS each.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

Alfredo Simon

R

5.09

4.72

146.2

1.44

5.8

Justin Verlander

R

3.40

3.81

92.2

1.08

7.3

Buck Farmer

R

7.54

6.71

37.0

1.76

5.1

Matt Boyd

L

6.97

6.02

31.0

1.71

5.5

Randy Wolf

L

6.11

4.28

17.2

1.53

6.1

Kyle Lobstein

L

4.34

4.13

47.2

1.45

3.8

Neftali Feliz #

R

7.18

4.47

36.1

1.71

7.7

Alex Wilson

R

2.31

3.45

62.1

1.06

5.2

Blaine Hardy

L

2.56

2.63

56.1

1.26

8.2

Al Alburquerque

R

4.17

3.98

54.0

1.50

8.3

Tom Gorzelanny

L

7.03

5.18

32.0

1.91

7.9

Kyle Ryan

L

5.92

5.57

38.0

1361

5.2

Bruce Rondon

R

6.56

3.23

23.1

1.54

12.7

Drew VerHagen

R

2.53

5.49

10.2

1.59

5.1

Jeff Ferrell @

R

2.65

-

37.1

0.99

10.4

# include Rangers stats; @ stats in AA/AAA

The pitching staff has gone under major renovations. Both David Price (trade) and Anibal Sanchez (injured) are missing. The rotation now has some players that are still trying to find their way. The closer Joakim Soria was also traded. But overall, this staff is pretty horrendous.

The Tribe opens with a lefty who was just activated from the 60 day DL, Lobstein. He hasn't pitched since mid-May. He has won both his Tribe starts this year though, giving up 6 runs in 12 innings, 14 hits, 4 walks and 7 strikeouts. Then they get Simon who was shelled in August with a 7.20 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 3.6 K/9. And that includes a one hit shutout of the Rangers. He has won all three Tribe starts, with a 2.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 5.8 K/9 in 17 IP. Verlander has shown signs of life again unfortunately. He has a 0.76 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 in 35.2 IP during his past 5 starts. That also includes a 1 hit shutout of the Angels. He only has one start in the opening series, a no decision in five IP.

The Tribe has hit the bullpen fairly well this year, with Wilson and Gorzellany the only ones with good numbers to date.

On the Shelf

  • SS Jose Iglesius [day to day], bruised finger
  • RP Joe Nathan [15 day DL], out for season
  • SP Daniel Norris [15 day DL], possible late September return
  • SP Anibal Sanchez [15 day DL], possible late September return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

3

9

250

57

71

401

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

1053

1106

488

9649

9968

485

*Does not include 2015 stats

Prediction: I would love to call for a sweep, which is exactly what the Tribe needs. But something about this series scares the crud out of me. I think they eke out a series win, but have very little faith in that prediction.