As the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers meet for their first series of the season on the diamond. The Indians and Tigers got things started last night, with the Tribe prevailing for a tight 2-1 win. It was a wasted effort by Justin Verlander, which has seemed to be a reoccurring theme for Verlander. Whenever he pitches a great game, he gets no run support and the few mistakes he make are magnified.
The Tigers had only 4 hits on the night, with their only run coming off a Justin Upton double. Today a couple of pitchers who have gotten off to slow starts take center stage on the mound. Corey Kluber, a winner of the Cy Young in 2014, is trying to find a groove but has had some problems thus far. For the Tigers, Anibal Sanchez hasn’t looked his best either. We’ll get a good look at both early Saturday afternoon, as they seek big outings.
If the offenses play like they did yesterday, then Kluber and Sanchez would be sitting pretty. Besides some spurts, the Tigers’ offense haven’t played up to par, or in the least, up to their payroll. They Tigers have put together an offensive unit which should consistently put 5 runs up on the board. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been doing some serious damage with his bat. He’s only 4 home runs back of his 2015 total, going yard 5 times this season compared to 9 in total a year ago with the Diamondbacks and Marlins. Also J.D. Martinez is showing no signs of slowing down after signing an extension with the Tigers in the offseason.
I always question how good how the Astros would be if they didn’t part with Martinez and he played like he did last season. Martinez put on a show, belting 38 homers, up from 23 in 2014, and 7 in 2013 with the Astros. This season he hasn’t shown off the power much, but he does have a .321 batting average. Conversely, Miguel Cabrera is hitting .232 with only 1 home run. Victor Martinez is hitting .262, so the role players are stepping up for the Tigers, but the guys who typically carry the load have yet to be seen. Kluber is on tap for the Tigers at Comerica Park this afternoon.
Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers
Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.16 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 4.60 ERA)
Kluber regressed last season after his Cy Young campaign. He didn’t fall off the map, but he was not worthy of being considered in 2014. He went from a 2.44 ERA in 2013 to a 3.49 ERA in 2014. We’re not out of April yet, but it looks like it might be another case of falling backwards for Kluber. If he continues to struggle, it could be said that Kluber was a one trick pony. He has allowed 4, 3, and 6 runs this season. Holding teams to less than 3 runs was so common for hum, but he doesn’t have one to his credit yet in 2016. Kluber was struggling towards the end of last season. Note that in his last three starts, he allowed 4 runs in two of those three outings.
Anibal had a couple of decent starts to the year, allowing 2 runs in each of his two starts. His past start yielded 4 runs against on the road against the Astros. Sanchez looked solid at home, posting 2 runs allowed and 4 hits over 5.2 innings of work. Kluber has had his problems against this Tigers’ lineup. Note that he owns a 4.72 ERA and 1.43 WHIP against the Tigers 74.1 innings pitched. No way do I think the Indians and Kluber should be the favorites in this game on the road. I see some great value taking the Tigers early Saturday afternoon.
PICK: TIGERS TO WIN +108