The Cleveland Indians head to Detroit tonight to kick off a three-game series against the Tigers. In order to get an expert’s perspective on the Tribe’s upcoming opponents (and because the last time we did this it ended with a Cleveland sweep) I talked to Josh Worn from the terrific Tigers blog Walkoff Woodward to preview the series. Josh was kind enough to offer his thoughts on Detroit’s playoff hopes, Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta‘s gloves, and the pitchers the Tigers will send to the mound this week.
- We’re two months into the season and the Tigers are in third place, six games behind the White Sox. Should they still be considered the favorites to win the division?
I don’t think so. Certainly not anymore. At this point the White Sox have to play .500 baseball to win 88-92 games and unless the Tigers go on a ridiculous stretch, it’s hard to imagine them winning the 95 they won last year.
An interesting side effect of the Prince Fielder signing was Miguel Cabrera’s move to third base. How has he looked at the hot corner so far?
Cabrera has actually been surprisingly decent, especially for a guy who hadn’t played the position in four years.There’s been some throwing issues and questions about his range, but he’s made some really excellent plays and he doesn’t make dumb decisions, something that can’t be said for the rest of the Tigers infield defense.
- Speaking of fielding, I know a number of Indians fans find it curious that UZR has loved Jhonny Peralta’s defense at shortstop ever since he was dealt to Detroit. What are your thoughts on his defense?
I actually think his range is better than most give him credit for. His arm has failed him a few times, and turning double plays has been as issue. Of course he hasn’t had a good second baseman to work with so the latter concern could be a bit misleading. But, bottom-line he is an average shortstop who has an average bat.
- Who’s pitching for the Tigers and what should Tribe fans look for from them?
Drew Smyly is making his fifth start in Comerica Park, his first against Cleveland. He certainly has exceeded all expectations and has already battled through a rough patch and has (so far) recovered. I think he will handle the Tribe just fine, although that strictly depends on his ability to keep his fastball below the belt.
Max Scherzer has a 13.7 K/9 at Comerica Park this year but also a 6.23 ERA in 4 starts. That’s basically been his entire year. He misses bats and anything the opposition hits eventually comes around to score.
Casey Crosby is scheduled to make his second big league start. His first went as well as expected: 18 batters faced, 10 outs recorded, four hits, four walks, six earned runs (the key blow a grand slam off the bat of Curtis Granderson) and three strikeouts. Make something out of that, if you want to, he’s simply not ready to challenge major league hitters yet.
Whatever the Tigers pitching does, the offense needs to step up and score. They’ve scored 4 or fewer runs in 67% of their games this year, which is not the dinner that they ordered this off season. They keep returning it to the kitchen, only to get the same wrong order again and again and again.
- What’s your prediction for the series?
Last time I predicted the Tigers would take two out of three and the Tribe went and swept the series. What am I supposed to do here? Predict the same thing again or go with a bit of reverse psychology and suggest the Tribe win two of three? I don’t know. I do know that the Tigers have Smyly and Scherzer at home. Both need to get the job done because Crosby is getting the ball on Thursday and I trust Crosby as much as you can trust a 23 year old lefty arm who has struggled in AAA this year.