The race for the postseason is getting more interesting as the days goes by. The Cleveland Indians, they don’t have to worry about anything. The Indians have already clinched the American League Central. While the Indians have clinched, the steal they stole the division from, the Kansas City Royals, have been statistically eliminated from the playoffs. Left to be decided in the AL Central, is whether the Detroit Tigers are going to find a way into the postseason by way of a wildcard. The Tigers are currently 1 game back, trailing the Baltimore Orioles who have a hold on the final spot. The Indians aren’t the biggest fans of the Tigers, that much is true, so I am sure they would like to prevent them from reaching the postseason as well. It’s important to note that this is an otherwise meaningless game for the Indians. The goal for Cleveland is to head into the postseason playing good baseball, and maybe along the way knock out one of their divisional rivals.
The Indians will be entering the postseason at less than 100%. Two important cogs of the rotation, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco will not be available. Cleveland ideally wanted to go to Corey Kluber in Game 1 and Carrasco in Game 2, but that is not going to be happening, as Kluber is questionable for the start of the postseason, too. It is a significant injury to the Indians, which leaves a sizable hole in the starting rotation. With pitching less than 100% in Cleveland, you’re going to be hard pressed to find many people selecting the Indians to win the World Series. The Tribe have defied the odds all season long, so maybe they can do it again, though. Salazar is trying to make a comeback for the ALDS, but nothing is guaranteed at this point. I expect Kluber to be ready, but this leaves three vital pieces of their rotation battling injuries right now. I can understand why people are shy about picking them to win the World Series. Due to injuries, the Indians will be getting a look at Ryan Merritt tonight in Detroit.
Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers
Ryan Merritt (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs Daniel Norris (3-2 3.59 ERA)
Merritt has spent most of his time in 2016 in the minor leagues. He has made three appearances out of the bullpen, but no major league starts. This will be the first start of his career. Merritt pitched 4.1 innings against the Rangers back in May, and held them to no runs and 1 hit. Since then, he’s pitched 1.2 innings, allowing 1 run and 2 hits. In his most recent outing, against the White Sox, Merritt surrendered 1 run and 2 hits in 0.2 innings, which calculates to a 13.50 ERA and 3.00 WHIP. He was clearly in trouble, which could have gotten out of hand. That was his first appearance on the road, and his second will come tonight as a starter.
Daniel Norris came over from Toledo is early August to pitch fulltime with the Tigers. And by all accounts, Norris has proven that he belongs here. He hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs in any start this season, and in his last three, no more than 2 runs have gotten past him. In his last three outings, Norris has posted an ERA of 2.65 with a 1.24 WHIP. Also, the Indians have hated left-handed pitching lately. In their last five, they hit .188 against them and last ten games .193. I think the Tigers rise up again tonight and take care of a pitcher making his first major league start, in what should be a hectic atmosphere at Comerica Park. The Tigers make the wildcard chase even more interesting tonight with a win over the Indians.
PICK: TIGERS TO WIN -140