Series Preview: Indians at Tigers 5/10-12

Cleveland Indians (18-14) Chance of Postseason Play (42.5%) at Detroit Tigers (19-12) Chance of Postseason Play (74.7%)
Series 12, Games 33, 34,and 35
Comerica Park, Detroit: 1.267, Extreme hitters park.
Weather: The weather looks decent; the only real threat to baseball being the first game of the series on Friday with a 90% chance of showers and thunderstorms.

Overview: The Tigers rank first in Major League Baseball in both batting average (.283) and on-base percentage (.351) while the Indians rank first in slugging percentage (.468). The series should be labeled the "clash of the offensive titans" as both teams bring in prolific sluggers to battle it out for first place in the A.L. Central. The pitching matchups do not favor the Indians at all. On the surface, having to face both Scherzer and Verlander back to back in a single series is tough enough. When you read between the lines, the Tigers have a 9.7 HR/FB rate which means they score a lot of runs while keeping the ball in the park. Since the Indians are throwing mostly ground ball pitchers at the Tigers this weekend, they wont have to worry about beating the Indians with the long ball. Much of that has to do with the spacious outfield at Comerica, though, and the Indians outfield is built to run balls down. It should be a good, close series.

 Friday , May 10 7:08 EDT (STO) 
Corey Kluber (2-1, 3.06)  vs. Max Scherzer (4-0, 3.43)

Scherzer allowed one run over eight innings and was the winning pitcher Saturday against the Astros. He gave up three hits while walking two and striking out eight. It was another fantastic start for Scherzer, who pitched very well while also receiving 17 runs of support. The win brought his record to 4-0 on the season to go along with a 3.43 ERA, 54 strikeouts and nine walks. Obviosuly with these numbers, he is an early candidate for the A.L. Cy Young award. Scherzer had a 29.4% strikeout rate last season, the best among all starting pitchers. Scherzer got batters to swing and miss at 28.4 percent of his pitches, second in the majors among starters to Yu Darvish (29.1 percent). This season, his strikeout rate is 35.1%. Of his six starts thus far this season, he has only faced one team whose slugging percentage is in the top ten in Major League Baseball: The Yankess on 04/06 (.420.)  This will be Scherzer's second start against a team in the aforementioned category; the Indians are ranked first as mentioned above.


Saturday, May 11 7:08 EDT (STO) (MLBN)
Ubaldo Jimenez  (2-2 6.37) vs. Justin Verlander  (4-2, 1.55)
 
The Indians face another former Cy Young award winner. Verlander improved to 4-2 on the year with a win against the Astros on Sunday. He pitched seven innings, giving up just two hits and striking out nine. Even though he threw 116 pitches to get through seven innings against the Astros,he did not allow a hit until the seventh inning. After concerns about everything from velocity to a blister on his hand this season, Verlander continues to dominate in the stats category. The blister on his pitching thumb continues to be only a nuisance for the right-hander, as he is not expected to miss any starts because of the issue.

 
Sunday, May 12 1:08 EDT (STO)
Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.63) vs. Rick Porcello (1-2, 7.52)
 
Porcello turned in his best start of the year against the Astros on Thursday, with three runs allowed and seven strikeouts over seven innings. Porcello throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball and  both of which can reach the mid-90s with regularity although the four-seamer is a bit faster. The heavy two-seamer has plenty of life down in the zone and induces ground balls.  He has a good feel for his change-up and can throw it in any count. He possesses excellent command, particularly of his fastball, to both sides of the plate. He made a change to his pitch selection in spring training, opting to throw more curve balls than sliders this season.  Porcello has the makeup, poise and mound presence to be an elite starter in the game, however the Tigers have not gotten the results they have wanted. One sure sign that the organization thinks his ceiling is not where they expected it to be is in the constant trade talks involving Porcello.  They want to get a healthy return for Procello before other organizations realize his regression, which sadly for the Tigers, might already be the case.

Prediction: Indians win series.

 

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