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Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing Tigers-Indians with Let’s Go Tribe

We chat with Matt Lyons of Let’s Go Tribe about Corey Kluber, unlikely standings, and more.

Cleveland Indians Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Of all the Detroit Tigers’ division rivals, the Cleveland Indians have proven to be especially problematic for the team in recent years. The Tribe’s success within the division has also made them rise to the top as far as “most loathed enemies” goes, becoming a sort of intriguing villain for the Tigers to square off against. And with 19 games a season to look forward to, they square off a lot.

We asked Matt Lyons, managing editor of Let’s Go Tribe, SB Nation’s excellent Indians community, how he thinks the Tigers — who are currently ahead of the Indians, thank you very much — how he thought the series would shake out, how badly Corey Kluber will clobber the offense, and the big question on every baseball fan’s mind right now: retractable roofs?

We did not mention Kluber giving up that home run to Shohei Ohtani, though, because we’re nice like that. You’re welcome, Matt.

BYB: So. Four game series. Right now the Tigers are actually ahead of the Indians in the standings. Do you think that will still be the case at the end of this series?

ML: Hey now, it’s only a half-game lead because the Tigers couldn’t play in a blizzard. Buncha whiners. Also, no. No, I do not.

Francisco Liriano vs. Corey Kluber. Um. Any chance Kluber catches a cold this week? Maybe?

Probably not, but he might also catch a case of the myoffensecan’thittitus which he’s come down with a lot in recent years. Be prepared for a boring 1-0 game either way when he faces the Tigers. We can commiserate in pain together.

It’s a short season so far and hard to judge anything on real numerical merits, but who has been the biggest surprise of the 2018 Indians season for you?

Honestly, the fact that everything Trevor Bauer said he wanted to do working out perfectly has been a pretty big surprise. Over the offseason, he said he wanted to steal Corey Kluber’s “slurve” pitch, and he has. And it’s great. As of this writing, he has the highest strikeout rate among Indians starters, which is really saying something when your competition is Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

Bradley Zimmer’s strikeout rate being over 50% is also surprising just... not in a good way.

How badly will the Lonnie Chisenhall injury impact the team?

Not a whole lot. He just makes things a little more complicated. If you didn’t already know, the Indians’ outfield is a total mess, and he wasn’t exactly the glue holding it together or anything, as much as I do love him. His injury opens the door for Tyler Naquin to get another shot, which allows angry Facebook commenters to yell at me more every time we run a post criticizing anything he does. It’s fun times.

Which of the Tigers players do you think will be the biggest thorn in the Indians’ side in this series?

Miguel Cabrera is the default answer because he always is. I had to Google the Tigers roster because don’t know much about your team in the early stages of a rebuild (which I say with the full sympathy of someone who has been through such a rebuild before), but that Nick Castellanos guy looks good. I’m sure he’ll be annoying.

Do you think teams like the Indians and Tigers ought to have retractable roofs on their stadiums? Seems like this is a major point of discussion at the moment.

YES. Why the hell not. I do enjoy me some uninterrupted skylines, but I also enjoy watching baseball every day and not being rained/snowed out. The Indians started playing in Seattle and Los Angeles this year and it was glorious. Give me roofs or give me death.

Thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions and for always being a good sport. You can read more of Matt’s work at Let’s Go Tribe, or find him on Twitter at @mattrly.