The last couple of weeks have not been kind to the Cleveland baseball club — in box scores or on the field. While they have somehow continued to find pitchers to plug into starting roles, they lost their final Opening Day rotation member, Aaron Civale, to a finger injury last week. They are left not only scraping the bottom of the barrel but turning it over in hopes of finding an arm capable of throwing a baseball.
They will now also be without outfielder/first baseman Josh Naylor, who suffered a horrific leg injury Sunday after colliding with second baseman Ernie Clement while both attempted to catch a fly ball. Naylor came down on his leg at an awful angle and was instantly in agony on the field. He was taken to a nearby hospital and manager Terry Francona confirmed that there is a fracture in there somewhere. More details will come when they are available, but for now, all we know is that Naylor will not be playing baseball anytime soon.
Cleveland’s one bit of luck was that June’s schedule wasn’t exactly a murderers’ row of baseball teams. They played the Orioles twice, the Mariners, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs, and a surprisingly disappointing Twins team that they still dropped a pair to. There was a sweep in there and more than a handful of surprising losses, but considering the state of their roster, they could do a lot worse than 41-33 and 2.5 games back in the division.
Light on pitchers and with a heavy heart over the dramatic loss of Naylor, Cleveland will wrap up their month of June against another division opponent, the Detroit Tigers. A Tigers team that is, as Dennis Green would say, who we thought they were. They are in a deep rebuild starting to show signs of life with young pitchers finally bubbling up to the surface, but not much else. Cleveland will see one of those pitchers tonight.
After starting the season on a sour note by dropping their first two to the Tigers, Cleveland won six of their next seven against them. Their only hiccup being a 1-0 loss on May 26. Cleveland will want to continue to pound the Tigers and get some easy wins this series, because July is going to be a brutal month on the schedule. They are slated to face the Astros and Rays twice, the A’s, and the White Sox over the next month and August isn’t going to be much easier.
Team at a glance
- Record: 34-44
- Runs Scored: 303
- Run Differential: -72
- Last 10: 5-5
- Slash: .230/.302/.378
- wOBA: .298
- wRC+: 87
- ERA: 4.49
- SIERA: 4.40
- K-BB%: 11.6%
Monday, June 28, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Matt Manning vs. Eli Morgan
Matt Manning, the ninth overall pick in the 2016 draft, will be making his third career start — first against Cleveland — tonight. His first two outings were potentially buoyed by some luck, but he held the Cardinals and Angels to a combined four runs over 10.2 innings. He registered just four strikeouts in those starts, though, and has greatly favored his 93 mph four-seamer over his other selection of pitches. That could benefit Cleveland, a team that likes to key up on fastballs and can be dominated by a good changeup.
Tuesday, June 29, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP José Ureña vs. J.C. Mejia
José Ureña has faced Cleveland twice so far this year, with mixed results. He walked five batters in his 4.2 innings of work on April 11, en route to a 5-2 loss. Then he turned around a couple of weeks later and held Cleveland’s lineup scoreless over 5.2 innings, with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. He has been awful on the mound since that start, though. In five outings since, he’s allowed a combined 21 earned runs over 14.2 innings. Yes, you read that right — he has a 12.89 ERA and 8.19 FIP over his last five starts.
Ureña will bring his four-seam, slider, changeup combination to Cleveland and hope to get back on track.
Wednesday, June 30, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Wily Peralta vs. Cal Quantrill
A long-time member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Wily Peralta has been in the AL Central for the last three seasons. He spent 2018 and 2019 with the Royals and landed in Detroit this year ahead of spring training. So far with the Tigers he has come out of the ‘pen once, pitched five innings in a start, and functioned as an opener in a doubleheader on Saturday.
OF, Akil Baddoo - Akil Baddoo has stopped grabbing headlines since he came out of the gate on fire, but he’s still out there plugging away. He’s played a bit of everything in the outfield for Detroit and is slashing .276/.372/.491 with five home runs. He’s cooled off a bit over the last month, with a 115 wRC+ in his 74 plate appearances.
2B, Jonathan Schoop - No doubt about it, Jonathan Schoop is Detroit’s hottest hitter. He carries a 117 wRC+ on the season, but in June it has been 193 with a .330/.379/.723 slash and team-leading 10 home runs. Schoop is also enjoying his lowest strikeout rate since 2017 (21%) and is on track for one of his best offensive seasons ever.
- Justin Verlander: ‘I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about’ returning to Detroit Tigers (Detroit Free Press)
- Tigers place Michael Fulmer on IL, mull looming roster decisions in infield, outfield (The Detroit News)
How many games will Cleveland win against the Tigers?
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