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Game 93 Preview: Indians at Tigers

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Drew VerHagen will toe the rubber in the first game of today's doubleheader, making his Major League debut.

Kevin C. Cox

Detroit Tigers (53–39) at Cleveland Indians (48–47)

Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation blog: Let's Go Tribe

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TVTigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Drew VerHagen (6-7, 3.67 ERA in Triple A) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (9–6, 3.01 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
VerHagen 19 110.1 5.14 2.04 0.41 1.29 3.73 - -
Kluber 20 131⅔ 9.71 2.19 0.68
1.20 2.79 2.92 3.4

With Scott Kazmir leaving town and Justin Masterson falling off the face of the Earth, Corey Kluber has been the most effective pitcher the Indians have had this season. He leads the league with 20 starts, striking out 142 batters through 131⅔ innings. His 2.88 xFIP is fifth in the American League. No stranger to the Tigers, Kluber will face Detroit for the third time this year. In those two meeting he is 0–1, but has pitched well, giving up five earned runs through 14 innings.

Drew VerHagen will be making his major league debut Saturday afternoon. He is a sinkerball pitcher — inducing ground balls 52 percent of the time — who projects to be a back of the rotation starter at the major league level. He has a fastball in the lower 90s and and a slightly above-average changeup, while continuing to work on his breaking ball. VerHagen was selected by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University. He has pitched this year with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

Outlook

It's difficult to have too much confidence coming into game one of the doubleheader based solely on the fact that Drew VerHagen has never pitched an inning in the major leagues, and Corey Kluber is really good. The Indians will be coming off a win Friday night that saw them score seven runs in a huge seventh inning. Their bats, which can go cold at times, may have seen the spark they need to rattle off a few wins. VerHagen will need to pitch to his strengths, keeping the ball on the ground and inside the fence. He will also be tasked with eating some innings after the bullpen meltdown Friday night.

Prediction

The Indians take the second game in the series behind a strong pitching effort from Kluber. VerHagen exits after five leaving the bullpen to eat more innings than manager Brad Ausmus would like.