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Series preview: Guardians vs. Tigers

Bibee, Battenfield, and Bieber will take the mound for the Guards

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

If you’re scoreboard/standings watching in early May — well, first of all, seek help. But also, this series may be of particular interest to you because it could decide who takes sole possession of second place in the vaunted American League Central Division. Heading into the series, the Guardians sit 1.5 games ahead of the Tigers at 16-18.

This will be the second matchup between these division rivals this season. You may recall that the first series featured a brutal doubleheader in which the Guardians were swept and lost Game 2 by a score of 1-0. They at least took the finale, 3-2, to avoid a series sweep.

The Guards will get their first look at second-year pitcher Joey Wentz Monday night. Wentz isn’t off to a great start on the season, but anyone who has watched this Guardians team knows that a struggling lefty without electric stuff is a perfect storm to shut this lineup all the way down. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s as well as a cutter, changeup, and curveball. There is already a no-hitter watch in place.

Game 2’s starter will be a new face for this season as veteran right-hander Michael Lorenzen takes the mound for Detroit. Lorenzen spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Reds before a brief stint with the Angels last year. Now in his first year with the Tigers, he’s sporting a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings. He’s been an up-and-down starter so far, with two great and two horrendous starts.

Lorenzen mostly relies on a high spin-rate four-seamer up in the zone to generate whiffs, but he features upwards of seven pitches based on Baseball Savant’s classifications — including a slider and a sweeper, which isn’t something you see often. In this case, it’s a pair of sliders where one has a few more inches of ride to it along the same horizontal plane.

Eduardo Rodríguez absolutely dominated the Guardians in their first matchup on April 18, striking out 10 batters over eight innings. If it makes you feel any better, it apparently wasn’t a complete aberration as he’s been lights out ever since. Since April 12, he has allowed just two earned runs with 33 strikeouts in 34.2 innings.

Rodríguez generated 14 swings and misses in his last matchup with the Guardians, turning to all five pitches in his arsenal to keep hitters off balance. He is currently among the best in the league at avoiding hard hits, even with a four-seamer that’s lucky to touch 92 and doesn’t generate a lot of spin. So far it has been the changeup that has made him deadly, especially against right-handers.

For the Guardians, this will be the third go-around for Tanner Bibee, who has been tremendous in his first two starts. Peyton Battenfield may not have the same electric stuff as Bibee, but he flirted with perfection in his last outing and looked good in three of his four starts. Not bad for a guy who was only supposed to be called up for a spot start.

The Tigers are about as hot as any rebuilding team can be, going 6-4 in their last 10 games, including a five-game winning streak that was snapped yesterday. Their offense is still very much a work in progress, however. Only four regulars have a wRC+ over 100 on the season, led by 28-year-old catcher Jake Rogers. Combined, Detroit batters have a pitiful, almost bottom-of-the-league 29 home runs. A team completely void of power that strikes fear into no one’s hearts. A dreadful showing by any measure. They still have 11 more home runs than the Guardians.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 15-18
  • Runs scored: 121
  • Run differential: -41
  • Last 10: 6-4
  • Slash: .229/.293/.359
  • wOBA: .288
  • wRC+: 81
  • ERA: 4.59
  • SIERA: 4.39
  • K-BB%: 12.8%

Projected starters

Monday, May 8, 6:10 p.m. ET: LHP Joey Wentz vs. RHP Tanner Bibee
Tuesday, May 9, 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Michael Lorenzen vs. RHP Shane Bieber
Wednesday, May 10, 1:10 p.m. ET: LHP Eduardo Rodríguez vs. RHP Peyton Battenfield



How many games will the Guardians win against the Tigers?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    (45 votes)
  • 53%
    (86 votes)
  • 9%
    (16 votes)
  • 8%
    (14 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now