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Game 156 Preview: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

Somehow, someway, the Tigers need to find a way to win on Monday.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians (90-65) at Detroit Tigers (83-72)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Let’s Go Tribe
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.11 ERA) vs. RHP Buck Farmer (0-0, 4.07 ERA)

As the Tigers start a four-game series against the Indians, Cleveland’s magic number sits at one. I guess the Tigers are just going to have to sweep them to keep them from celebrating on Detroit’s home field... And it looks like that sweep is going to have to start with a win featuring one of the most lopsided pitching matchups all season.

There’s a strong argument to be made in favor of Corey Kluber winning his second American League Cy Young award. The ace of the Indians has regressed from his 2014 campaign that featured a 2.35 FIP to go with 269 strikeouts, but that has hardly stopped him from being dominant. In 2016, Kluber has thrown 211 innings with an ERA of 3.11 and a FIP of 3.19. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has dropped from 5.44 last year to 4.00 this year. Regardless, he has still managed to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Tigers have Buck Farmer. Farmer has made one unofficial start in the majors this season, and has thrown 24 13 innings out of the bullpen. While his strikeout rate is up to a career high 9.25 punchouts per nine innings, he is also walking 5.92 batters per nine. His walks haven’t come back to hurt him too much, as his ERA sits at 4.07, but his FIP suggests some regression at 4.78.

Hitter to Fear: Francisco Lindor (17-54, 3 HR, .537 SLG vs. Tigers)
Hitter to Fail: Roberto Perez (6-35 vs. Tigers)

Francisco Lindor has established himself as one of the best shortstops in baseball, showing consistent on-base ability with a little bit of pop. Though his career slugging percentage is .451, he’s slugging nearly .540 against the Tigers. Against Farmer, look for Lindor to take advantage of Farmer’s poor command and either get on base via the walk, or drive his mistakes to the outfield gaps.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Indians are last place in the league in catching WAR at -1.0. Roberto Perez has taken the bulk of playing time with Yan Gomes out, and he has not at all taken advantage of it, hitting .168/.265/.266. I’m really surprised the Indians didn’t make a deal at the trade deadline for a catcher...

Outlook

The Tigers are on a two game losing streak, have fallen a game and a half back of the Orioles in the Wild Card race, and have a completely depleted bullpen. None of that is good news. The Tigers are 2-13 against Cleveland. That is also not good. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but there aren’t a whole lot of positive points going into tonight’s game. Maybe that’s a sign that the Tigers are going to pull off their most unlikely victory of the season!

*Checks pitching matchup again*

Nope, never mind.

Prediction

Kluber dominates, Farmer gives up a large number of runs, the Indians pop champagne in front of a real crowd, and the Tigers drift farther away from the playoff race.