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Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers

This is the easy part of the schedule

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Not a great series against the Twins, but not the worst in the world either. So maybe it was the worst possible outcome since it wasn’t definitive one way or another in terms of if the Indians should “go for it”. They’re still 6.5 games out of first with a lot of baseball left to play, however. That starts today with a new series against the Tigers.

Team in a box

2020 Pittsburgh Pirates

Record 18-39
Record 18-39
Runs Scored 202
Runs Allowed 286
Run Differential -84
Last 10 4-6
AVG .218
OBP .282
SLG .349
OPS .631
wRC+ 71
ERA 4.71
SIERA 4.48
K-BB% 13.2%

Story of the year so far for Detriot hasn’t changed much. Mediocre pitching combined with atrocious hitting has led to a very down year for the Tigers.

Projected starters

Monday, July 15 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Daniel Norris (v. Adam Plutko)

Comparatively speaking, Daniel Norris is in the middle of his best season since 2016. That doesn’t mean he’s having a good year, per se, it just means he’s been better than the previous two years. In 90.2 innings so far this season, Norris has allowed 50 earned runs while walking 23 and striking out 71 (ERA+ 95). ZiPS thinks he’ll stay this about this effective for the remainder of the year; his strikeouts will jump a bit but so will his walks and he’ll bring his ERA down from around 5 to around 4.5. Not great, but not the worst problem that the Tigers have in 2019, either. His most recent start came on July 3 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Norris went 5.0 innings and allowed 6 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 2.

Tuesday, July 16 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Ryan Carpenter (v. Zach Plesac)*

Both starters are listed as TBD on MLB.com but FanGraphs believes that it’ll be a battle of the youngsters featuring Ryan Carpenter on the mound for the Tigers. He’s pitched a handful of innings for Detroit over the past two years but has not yet found a permanent home in the majors. Across his 37.2 major league innings this season, Carpenter has allowed 35 earned runs while walking 12 and striking out 25 (ERA+ 57). He’s got a slider (82 mph) that doesn’t generate a lot of whiffs, a sinker (90 mph) that can get a decent number of flyballs, a fourseam (90 mph) that can also sink, a groundball-inducing changeup (84 mph), and a good, sweeping curveball (77 mph). His last major league start came on July 5 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Carpenter went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 4.

Wednesday, July 17 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Spencer Turnbull (v. Mike Clevinger)

Spencer Turnbull has had an excellent season thus far for the Tigers and has given the Detroit faithful something to cheer about every fifth day. Across 92.2 innings of work this year, Turnbull has allowed 37 earned runs while walking 37 and striking out 85 (ERA+ 131). ZiPS thinks he’ll come back to earth a bit; his K/9 will drop to ~7.5, his BB/9 will balloon up to 4, and his ERA will jump a whole run if ZiPS is correct. But so far this year, Turnbull has been great for the Tigers. His most recent start came on July 12 against the Kansas City Royals; in that game, Turnbull went 3.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 1.

Thursday, July 18 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Matthew Boyd (v. Trevor Bauer)

Matthew Boyd has been the real workhorse for the Tigers this year and has done well in 2019. He had a middling season last year and has taken a big step forward this season and is in the middle of his best season to date. Across 114.0 innings so far, Boyd has allowed 50 earned runs while walking 24 and striking out 152 (ERA+ 119). His K/9 so far this year has been a mesmerizing 12.00, and ZiPS isn’t convinced that that will hold (it projects to be 9.14 over the rest of the season). His BB/9 also might see a slight uptick to 2.50, but ZiPS does think that Boyd will start giving up fewer home runs overall. His ERA may rise slightly, but only by about ~.3 runs. Overall, Boyd is still set to be an above average starter for the Tigers for the rest of the summer. His most recent start came on July 13 against the Royals; in that game, Boyd went 7.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 4 and striking out 10 (his last three starts have all had strikeouts in double figures).

Lineup highlights

RF Nicholas Castellanos - Many folks are hoping that Castellanos is wearing a Cleveland jersey by the end of the month, and for good reason. He’s been the best hitter on the Tigers this season. And that’s not saying much, but he is legitimately a good bat. The problem with Castellanos is that he is an absolute trainwreck in the field, which would mean he would need to be a DH primarily for the Indians. But his bat has been good enough (and should be cheap enough in terms of trade value) that he may be worth the risk. Across 381 plate appearances this season, Castellanos has slashed .280/.339/.464 (wRC+ 111). ZiPS thinks he’ll actually keep getting a touch better as the season progresses, projecting him to slash .278/.333/.487 (wRC+ 114) the rest of the way while maintaining current K% and BB% levels. Is he worth taking a flyer on? Only time will tell.

DH Miguel Cabrera - Miguel Cabrera continues to defy Father Time and be a decent hitter at the plate. He’s not fantastic anymore or even above average, but on a team where “average” is an unattainable goal for most in the lineup, Cabrera stands out. Across 327 plate appearances this year, Cabrera is slashing .298/.361/.390 (wRC+ 102). ZiPS also believes that Miggy will get a bit better as the summer winds down, projecting him to slash .283/.361/.427 (wRC+ 108) the rest of the way. He’s not the juggernaut he once was, but he can still swing it and cause problems for opposing pitchers on occasion.

Detroit Tigers roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Tigers?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    4
    (32 votes)
  • 52%
    3
    (58 votes)
  • 14%
    2
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    1
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (2 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now