The top two teams in the AL Central do battle Saturday afternoon as the Cleveland Indians face the Detroit Tigers. The Indians won Friday night in Detroit, giving them six wins in seven games against the Tigers this season. The Cleveland Indians are -155 over the Detroit Tigers.
After a rather mediocre start to the season, the Indians have finally kicked things into gear. The Tribe won six straight to close out May and have now won nine of their last 12 games to go five games above .500. However, they are still tied with Arizona for the fewest wins of any division leader at this point in the season.
Meanwhile, the Tigers have rather surprisingly turned into Cleveland’s biggest competition inside the AL Central. The Tigers have stumbled this past week against the Yankees and Red Sox, but they recently had a stretch of eight wins in 10 games. Alas, they are still five games under .500 on the season. However, Detroit is just five games back of the Indians, putting them in a good position if they can earn a couple head-to-head wins over Cleveland this weekend.
Mike Clevinger gets the start Saturday for the Indians. On the season, his numbers have been good. He’s 4-2 with a 3.36 ERA, which has been good enough for him to hold down a full-time job in Cleveland’s rotation after serving as a swingman the past couple of years. However, he’s not been at his best the past few times out. With Cleveland’s bullpen being the worst in the American League right now, the Indians need him to be sharp.
The good news for Clevinger is that he’s been effective against most of Detroit’s hitters. Miguel Cabrera is just 2 for 13 against him, Victor Martinez is only 1 for 7, and Nick Castellanos is 2 for 9. If Clevinger can continue to hold those three in check, he has a good chance of giving the Indians a quality start. Of course, guys like Cabrera and Martinez are always capable of hurting you. Meanwhile, Leonys Martin is swinging a hot bat for the Tigers.
The Tigers will counter with Mike Fiers, who is responsible for Detroit’s only win over the Indians this season. Back in May, Fiers allowed one run on three hits over six innings against Cleveland in a 6-3 win. Of course, that outing has been more the exception rather than the rule for Fiers this season. In 11 starts, Fiers has a modest 4.33 ERA and just one win in his last four outings since tossing that gem against the Indians.
The Indians also have a lineup that’s hard to keep off the scoreboard for nine innings. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Michael Brantley are all having exceptional seasons, while Edwin Encarnacion and Jason Kipnis have also caught fire lately. Fiers has good career numbers against most of Cleveland’s hitters, but he’s had some problems with both Ramirez and Yonder Alonso, so he’ll have his work cut out for him.
Keep It Rolling
If Cleveland’s bullpen were more reliable, this would be a slam-dunk pick for the Indians. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely Fiers will be able to repeat his stellar outing against the Indians last month. Cleveland should get a decent outing from Clevinger, and they have the bats to put a few runs on the board. Take the Cleveland Indians -155 over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.