- Game 1: Corey Kluber (1-3, 5.26 ERA/3.85 SIERA) vs. Justin Verlander (13-8, 2.91/2.27)
Another week, another start by Corey Kluber. I’m not going to sugar coat things at all when it comes to Kluber being on the big league roster. He hasn’t been very good and I can’t even begin to understand why the Indians continue to send him to the mound every fifth day. It would be one thing if he were showing signs of improvement, but he’s not. He’s been mediocre at best. In fact, the Indians have only won one of his seven starts. Is it possible that Kluber could eventually transform into a reliable fourth or fifth starter in the rotation? Sure, anything is possible. It just seems unlikely given what we’ve seen so far and the other arms waiting in the wings.
Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, the Tigers will send their ace to the mound on an extra day’s rest. That can’t bode well for the Indians. Verlander is one of the best pitchers in the game today and there is a tremendous amount of pressure on him to keep the Tigers in the race for the division crown. He certainly catches a break. On Thursday he was supposed to face off against White Sox ace Chris Sale, but will now face an Indians team looking to fill 2013 roster spots while sending a far less dominating pitcher to the mound. The Tigers should have the edge in the game, but stranger things have happened.
- Game 2: Justin Masterson (11-13, 4.96/4.17) vs. Anibal Sanchez (7-12, 4.07/3.82)
Justin Masterson’s record on the season is inching closer and closer to .500. As one would expect, his season has been a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs, especially over his last 10 starts. During that time he has recorded a decision in each and every single one of them. Even crazier is the fact that in his last six starts Masterson has gone win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. So, since this is obviously a full-proof method for predicting the outcome of baseball games, logic would tell us that the Indians will win this game. End of story. Not buying it? OK, then how about taking a look at his opponent.
Anibal Sanchez was acquired by the Tigers prior to the July 31st trade deadline to be the missing piece of the puzzle in their rotation. It made sense at the time and given Sanchez’s track record it was hard not to like the move. However, as is the case with most pitchers going from the NL to the AL, it has been a struggle. Since coming to the Tigers, Sanchez is 2-6 with a 4.40 ERA and while he was only 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA with the Marlins, many felt he would improve significantly with a better lineup supporting him and fueled by the rush of being in a pennant chase. It just hasn’t worked thanks in part to Sanchez’s lack of dominance and the fact that a predominantly ground ball pitcher moved to one of the worst fielding teams in all of baseball.
- Game 3: Ubaldo Jimenez (9-16, 5.52/4.77) vs. Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.59/3.92)
I have to admit, I’m beginning to run out of ways to analyze the 2012 version of Ubaldo Jimenez. It’s like a broken record at this point. With the exception of a brief run of success back in June, it’s been a season full of ineffectiveness, lack of control, and one poop sandwich after another. To make matters worse, he’s lost five of his past six starts (the sixth was a no decision, but the Indians still lost the game). In fact, since winning a July 7th start against Tampa, Jimenez has won only one other start, August 9th versus Boston, the only team more screwed up than the Tribe at this point. That’s two victories in two months time. Are you kidding me? It’s beginning to look less and less like last season big mid-season move is a bust and a lot more like the curse of Rocky Colavito is alive and well.
Taking the bump for the Tigers in the series finale will be Rick Porcello. Porcello has had a rough go if it lately and it helps explain why the Tigers haven’t been able to overtake the White Sox and run away with the division title. Porcello has lost six straight starts. He’s thrown 34 innings during the streak and posted a 4.50 ERA. However, in his defense the Tigers’ offense has let him down time and time again by failing to score more than 3 runs in any of those six starts. In fact, Porcello has endured run support totals of 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, and 1. In other words, Porcello would have to of been near perfect to win any of those games and he almost has been. four of the six losses have been by one run. So while Porcello appears to be pitching poorly on the surface, the numbers suggest something entirely different the deeper you dig.