Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers

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Pitching Matchups

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

When the Tigers picked up Anibal Sanchez earlier this year, I thought it a good move. He’s a great middle-of-the-rotation starter, had a solid 2011 with 202 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA (3.29 SIERA)  and would be playing in a big park. Granted, Comerica plays about the same as either Marlins Park or ProPlayer/Land Shark/SunLife/Dolphin Stadium, but whatever, it gives the idea of a pitcher’s park. The AL Central is also worse than the NL East. Anibal hasn’t been that stunning in Detroit, giving up 12.4 hits per nine and he’s lasted into the seventh inning only twice. He doesn’t walk many but he hasn’t been striking many out this year either. Maybe it’s a comfort level thing, maybe it’s getting used to the DH. Whatever it is, either he or Rick Porcello need to perform for this team to get to the postseason and win anything legitimate. In one of the many bludgeonings the Indians took in August Anibal was the recipient of the win, going six innings and allowing two runs in the 10-2 Tigers win. But it’s September now, so the Indians will win. Because why not?

Corey Kluber, what are you? Kluber has shown flashes of brilliance in his short time in Cleveland like his five inning, six strikeout performance against the Yankees back on the 24th. He danced around danger time and again that outing and he’s got a good arm. Whether that means he’ll rack up more K’s in Detroit or those balls will be deposited in the bleachers is the question. He does have a knack for putting the ball right in the hitter’s zone a bit much and that’s not a recipe for success in the majors, despite the “pitching to contact” mentality some coaches push.

  • Justin Masterson (10-12, 4.91 ERA, 4.21 SIERA) vs. Rick Porcello (9-10, 4.57 ERA, 3.88 SIERA)

Porcello is an interesting study. He looks every bit the major league pitcher but seems to scuffle constantly. Consistency is key in this game and at least he’s found a niche but you have to think he’s got Jim Leyland spending an awful lot extra on cigarettes. His middle name is Alfred. He leads baseball in hits given up with 194 and is striking out only 5.4 per nine yet lasting less than six innings per start. Maybe his 2009 campaign with the 114 ERA+ as a 20-year old rookie was a ruse. Cleveland has a .713 OPS against Rick and that’s better than how they’ve been hitting lately, which is good, or something.

We’ll spin this to the positive and note that Justin Masterson’s evolution into a dominant, complete starter has been rocky but this year is almost over. Next year he’ll know what he needs to do to dominate other teams after seeing what doesn’t work this year. has noted that he’s tied a club record set in 1936 with five starts of eight or more runs given up, plainly this is growing pains. Hideous, painful growing pains. That his last start was against an offensively middling team in the Athletics, and that he was part of what got them on a roll the last couple days, that will be ignored here. At Comerica he’s been tagged for 28 hits and 14 earned runs (16 total) with 15 K’s and 10 walks. But this is the time he turns it around.

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

It’s been a down year and injury-plagued season for Mr. Fister but he gets a chance to dominate a struggling lineup here. Whether he can shake the aftereffects of a groin pull from a few starts back is the question, but he’s been damn good against the Tribe thus far, a 2.33 over 11 starts. He’s logged a 2.61 ERA since the break after a rough first half (4.75) and looks to be the dynamite tandem to that Verlander guy the Tribe gets to avoid. He’s fun to watch pitch even if he’s shredding your team – where Verlander just makes people look silly he seems a bit more surgical and just induces weak contact. If anything that’s more frustrating than getting blown away. He seems to like the heat of the playoff chase, this is one of those games he just goes off and silences the other team.

Well, we spun the wheel on Friday and ended up on “Pretty Good Ubaldo.” The numbers tell a worse story than it actually was, but Jimenez pitched 5 ⅔ innings of four-run ball against the Rangers. He dominates Nelson Cruz, and that got him out of a couple jams. The Tigers own a .934 OPS against him at Comerica though, and he’s been pretty bad in general his last 10 starts, gangling his way to a 7.79 ERA over that span. It’s an interesting matchup between these two though, they were both trade deadline pickups last year that each club hoped would put them over the top. One worked, the other didn’t. Such is the nature of baseball sometimes. At least Indians fans get the fun of not knowing.

Playing spoiler is a darkly fun time for the fan of a team. We get to cheer for the other guy’s failure as much as our own guys’ success. Like I said before, at least the Twins won’t embarrass the AL Central, but at this point I’m being selfish—I live in Chicago so I’d rather the White Sox get to the playoffs. Wouldn’t a sweep just be silly? The Indians are 7-5 against the Tigers this year, so let’s make it a nice .667 record.

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