The AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers come to town tonight to kick off a hugely important three-game series that could end either with the Tribe just a game out of first place or all but buried in the division. So I talked to Cameron Scott from the great Tigers blog Walkoff Woodward to get his thoughts on the Tigers’ recent hot streak, the trade for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez, and what we can expect to see from Detroit this week.
When our teams last met in early June, the AL Central seemed to be a two-team race that did not include the Tigers; now they’re in first place. What happened?
Well, they won 13 of their last 15, first of all. The Indians were overachieving a bit. The Tigers weren’t hitting and were playing atrocious defense. Since then, they’re still playing bad defense, but they’re getting contributions from top to bottom in their lineup and the bullpen has continued to be outstanding. I have written numerous times this year about the Tigers lack of home run power, but that has picked up considerably.
- Yesterday the Tigers acquired Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez for a prospect package centered around Jacob Turner. What do you think of the deal, both for now and for the long term?
I like the trade a lot. They gave up a lot in Turner, Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn — but it’s a necessary deal. Dombrowski did well by not overpaying, something I feel he would have had to do to acquire Garza or Grienke or whoever — this was a move for a solid 2B, a good SP, and a good draft pick. You’re going to give up value. That happens.
It’s sad to lose Turner. I really liked him. But, it’s always been a belief of mine that if you can turn prospects into good major leaguers, you should do it. The Tigers did that here. Long term is obviously dependent on how Turner & co develop. If they all turn into All-Stars, the Tigers lose, but that’s not likely to happen.
- Quintin Berry is having a very good year, but he’s a 27-year-old rookie with a .381 BABIP. Is his success sustainable?
I don’t believe so, no. Our site has analyzed this extensively — his track record in the minor leagues isn’t impressive, and as you mentioned, his BABIP is really high (and has fallen, it was previously in the mid .400s). Berry plays average defense, has outstanding speed, but doesn’t project to be a guy who will stick around and make a big difference at the MLB level. He’s not going anywhere for the moment, however.
Who’s pitching for the Tigers, and what should Tribe fans expect from them?
Doug Fister, the pitcher in game 1, has outstanding control and a lot of movement on his pitches. You’ll remember that he struck out 13 Indians last September. When Fister’s on, he’s pounding the zone, throwing lots of strikes and forcing lots of ground balls. He’s just now getting back to full strength after being placed on the DL a few times this season.
Max Scherzer is the pitcher in Game 2, and he has outstanding stuff. He’s #1 in the AL in strikeouts per 9 innings, can hit the high 90’s with his fastball, and has really nice secondary stuff. He can be wild, though, and he gives up a ton of home runs.
Justin Verlander goes in Game 3. Do I really need to tell you guys what to expect? You saw it earlier this year when he struck out the side in the 8th inning, barely throwing a pitch below 99 MPH. He has the best stuff in the majors, and nobody starts a game at 90 with their fastball velocity and ends up at 100. I don’t want to say he’s the best pitcher in baseball, because that’s probably a little biased, but he’s easily among the best.
- What’s your prediction for the series?
Tigers will take 2 of 3.
How many games will the Indians win this series?
- 0 (60%, 6 Votes)
- 2 (30%, 3 Votes)
- 1 (10%, 1 Votes)
- 3 (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 10