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Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers

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It’s crunch time for the Cleveland Indians

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After a not so great weekend against the AL Central leading Twins, the Indians get a kind of respite this week with a 3-game series against the worst team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers. If the Tribe has any hopes of squeaking into the playoffs, they need to continue to do what they’ve done all season: destroy the Tigers.

Team in a box

2019 Detroit Tigers

Record 45-104
Record 45-104
Runs Scored 554
Runs Allowed 847
Run Differential -293
Last 10 4-6
AVG .242
OBP .297
SLG .391
OPS .688
wRC+ 78
K/9 8.51
BB/9 3.42

Just bad up and down the board. The only team in baseball with a worse wRC+ is Miami with a 76. The Tigers can’t hit and they can’t pitch, two fundamental parts of successful baseball.

Projected starters

Tuesday, September 17 7:10 p.m. ET: TBD (v. Adam Plutko)

It’s looking like Daniel Norris will be thrown into the mix for one of these games, and since MLB currently has no starter listed for tonight, I’m going with that one. Norris has had a good year, which you can’t say about many players in Detroit this year. Across 138.1 innings in 30 games (27 starts), Norris has allowed 71 earned runs while walking 38 and striking out 119 (ERA+ 105). He’s got a fourseam fastball (91 mph), curve (76 mph), and sinker (91 mph) that get a lot of flyballs, a slider (85 mph) that moves in two planes, and a change (86 mph) that gets a lot of groundballs. His most recent start came on September 14 against the Orioles; in that game, Norris went 3.0 innings and allowed zero runs on 1 hit while walking no one and striking out 3.

Wednesday, September 18 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Spencer Turnbull (v. Aaron Civale)

Spencer Turnbull has had a markedly average season when you dig into his numbers. But when you look at his W-L record (a very important stat for pitchers), he’s 3-15. Hammy will most likely remind us all of this on Wednesday. But really, he’s not been as horrendous as his record indicates. Across 132.0 innings this season in 27 starts, Turnbull has allowed 70 earned runs while walking 56 and striking out 126 (ERA+ 101). His fourseam (94 mph) is good at getting swings and misses, his slider (87 mph) can move across two planes, and his sinker (94 mph) gets a lot of groundballs. His most recent start came on September 12 against the Yankees; in that game, Turnbull went 5.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 8.

Thursday, September 19 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (v. Mike Clevinger)

I do not know Jordan Zimmermann. I’m sure he’s a perfectly friendly human (*cue someone pulling up old tweet from Zimmermann about how he wishes to launch the city of Cleveland into the sun that I was not aware of*). But there is something about him getting a big contract for Detroit and then immediately being terrible that makes me happy. 2019 is no exception. Across 104.0 innings in 21 starts, Zimmermann has allowed 73 earned runs while walking 23 and striking out 74 (ERA+ 77). His fourseam (91 mph) is meh, his slider (86 mph) doesn’t fool many hitters into swinging and missing, his curve (80 mph) moves in a 12-6 motion, and his sinker (90 mph) gets a lot of groundballs. His most recent start came on September 13 against the Orioles; in that game, Zimmermann went 5.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 8 hits while walking no one and striking out 3.

Lineup highlights

Well, the Tigers’ best hitter is still Nicholas Castellanos despite not having been with the team since being traded to the Cubs in July. The only player on the Tigers with above-average (and by “above-average”, I mean one point above average) batting stats is SS Jordy Mercer. In his first year with the Tigers, he’s having a good season (relatively speaking). Across 248 plate appearances in 68 games, Mercer is slashing .281/.319/.460 (wRC+ 101). Every other member of the Tigers has a wRC+ under 100. It’s truly a dreadful lineup.

Detroit Tigers roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Tigers?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    3
    (66 votes)
  • 25%
    2
    (25 votes)
  • 1%
    1
    (1 vote)
  • 5%
    0
    (5 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now