The Cleveland Indians' record-setting winning streak ended on Saturday, so it is time to start a new one. They will attempt to do so against the division rival Detroit Tigers, who they swept as part of their 14-straight wins just a little over a week ago.
Game one of this three-game series is already sold out, with the Indians expecting a full stadium as the team returns from a 10-game road trip. The Tribe finished the month of June 11-0 at home; the last time they lost at Progressive Field was May 31, a 3-7 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Monday and Tuesday's games will be regular 7:10 p.m. ET starts, while Wednesday's series finale will be a 12:10 p.m. matinee.
Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. Daniel Norris (LHP)
Fans at Progressive Field Monday could be in for a treat, as the Tigers will be sending young pitcher Daniel Norris to the mound against the Danny Salazar.
In three appearances this season (two starts), Norris has thrown 11 innings and allowed five runs off 14 hits. He already has 13 strikeouts to just two walks. His last game was a five-inning win against the Miami Marlins in which he allowed eight hits, but held his opponent to two runs with eight strikeouts.
Danny Salazar is coming off one of his best starts of the season. In seven innings against the Atlanta Braves he struck out eight and did not issue a single walk -- the first time this season he has not given up a free base. Salazar leads the American League with a 2.22 ERA and is third with 10.32 strikeouts per nine innings behind Michael Pineda and Chris Archer.
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (RHP)
After facing one of the best pitchers in the league in Danny Salazar, the Tigers will then be facing... another one of the best pitchers in the league, Carlos Carrasco. The last time Detroit faced Cookie they were shutout for nine innings and struck out seven times.
Carrasco's last start came against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 30 when he struck out a season-high 14 batters in a 7.1-inning win.
Jordan Zimmerman has struggled at times this season, and he carries a 3.95 ERA over his 15 starts for the Tigers. The last time he faced the Indians, on June 24, he allowed seven earned runs before being pulled after 3.2 innings.
Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) vs. Michael Fulmer (RHP)
Even when the Detroit Tigers struggled through June, Michael Fulmer was a constant bright spot. The rookie pitcher has allowed just 17 earned runs in 70.2 innings of work this season, while also striking out 70 batters and issuing 25 walks.
The Indians have faced Fulmer once this season, but that was back on May 5 before he turned into the rookie sensation that he is. In his last eight starts, Fulmer has five shutouts and two double-digit strikeout games. His last start was a July 1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.
After this series against Detroit, the Indians will welcome the New York Yankees to town before they enter the much-needed all-star break.
Team in a box
While the Indians were busy setting records and grabbing headlines with their 14-game win streak, the Tigers quietly rattled off six straight wins against the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays since being swept by the Tribe. Detroit's winning, plus the Kansas City Royals' struggles, has put the Tigers in second place in the AL Central. They sit 5.5 games back of the Tribe heading into this series.
The Tigers pitching staff started the season slow, but they are working their way towards respectability, thanks in large part to the aforementioned emergence of Michael Fulmer and a renewed Justin Verlander.
Detroit Tigers roster
The Tigers offense is unsurprisingly led by Miguel Cabrera, who has a team-high 137 wRC+ and 18 home runs. Designated hitter Victor Martinez is not far off with 16 home runs on the season and a .318/.362/.351 slash.
Mike Aviles is the team's worst player according to FanGraphs WAR. The former Indian has been worth -0.7 fWAR with his .218/.269/.267 slash and 17.3 percent strikeout rate.
The only change to the Tigers roster from the last two times these teams played is that Anibal Sanchez was relegated to the bullpen, where the Tigers will probably avoid using him if at all possible. He carries a 6.05 ERA and 5.80 FIP in 74.1 innings this season.
Despite his struggles, Zimmermann leads the Tigers in fWAR at 2.2, with Verlander just a shade behind at 2.1 fWAR. If Michael Fulmer can keep up his string of dominant starts he should easily pass them both by season's end. He leads all Tigers starters with a 2.17 ERA.