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Series preview: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

This series is extremely important if you're an optimistic Tigers fan. For everyone else, it's about the march to the inevitable.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Before we begin this series, let's all take a moment to thank the Cleveland Indians. They could have clinched the American League Central during their last series against the Chicago White Sox, but instead, the offense rolled over and died they decided to postpone the party until they were in Detroit. Now they are preparing to face the Detroit Tigers and they could clinch the AL Central and eliminate the Tigers in front of their home fans in one fell swoop. Baseball is beautiful, don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

Of course, in order to win, the Indians will have to not let pesky regression get in the way. Coming into this series, they are 13-2 against their feline rivals, and I have written in the past about how the Indians have not lost four games in a row all season. The law of averages says that the Indians should still be due a whole bunch of losses to the Tigers, and karma says I should be forced to watch the Indians lose four straight since I opened my big mouth. But, we'll see.

Pitching matchups

  • Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) vs. Buck Farmer (RHP)
  • Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) vs. Justin Verlander (RHP)
  • Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Michael Fulmer (RHP)
  • Thursday, 1:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. Daniel Norris (LHP)

Although Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer have both shown a lot of promise lately, I don't love the odds of them both beating Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer, especially if the offense continues to look as gassed as it did in the White Sox series.

However, that could be completely irrelevant if Corey Kluber can do his thing against a 25-year-old who will be making just his eighth start in three seasons, and his first in 2016. In 24.1 relief innings this season, Buck Farmer (which sounds like a name you would say if you hated someone named Barmer) has a 4.07 ERA and a 4.78 FIP. He will essentially be carrying the Tiger's fleeting AL Central hopes on his shoulders Monday night.

The Thursday matchup is likely to be another delightful bullpen day for the Tribe, with someone like Cody Anderson getting the start again. Bullpen days have not been a rousing success for the Tribe so far this September, but they really do not have much of a choice with Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar on the disabled list.

I'll be interested to see what will happen if the Indians do clinch after Game 1. Do they keep gunning for the No. 1 seed (or, at least, a seed better than the Boston Red Sox), or do they let their offense rest a bit? Tito will have some tough choices coming up.

Upcoming schedule

After this four-game set, the Indians head to Kansas City then it's off to the postseason!

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Detroit Tigers roster