Artie Lewicki is one of the best pitchers in the world. By virtue of simply being in the major leagues, Lewicki has reached a pinnacle of the sport that few ever will. And while his MLB career hasn’t gotten off to the hottest start, he is still only 26 years old and (hopefully) has a lot of baseball ahead of him.
But if we narrow our scope a bit, Lewicki isn’t anywhere near the pitcher Corey Kluber is. The Indians’ ace is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, and is off to the hottest start of his career in 2018. He was given the Best Pitcher in Baseball moniker back in April, and has only perpetuated that narrative over the past two months. He is already 9-2 on the year and hasn’t even entered the summer months, where he usually destroys everything in his path.
There’s hope, though. The Tribe are 9-4 with Kluber on the mound this year, a record that seems fairly pedestrian given his incredible numbers. Most of those losses weren’t his fault — they lost a game two weeks ago by an 11-2 scoreline after he threw 6 1⁄3 scoreless innings — and other times he simply gets out-pitched. With the Indians offense still disappearing at times, it’s possible Lewicki could shock the world and pitch the Tigers to a series win.
It’s just not likely.
Cleveland Indians (33-29) at Detroit Tigers (31-35)
Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Let’s Go Tribe
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Corey Kluber (9-2, 1.96 ERA) vs. RHP Artie Lewicki (0-1, 3.86 ERA)
Game 67 Pitching Matchup
I don’t really know what else there is to say about Corey Kluber. Tigers fans are plenty familiar with him, and his days of imploding against the big bats in Detroit’s lineup seem to be over. Even Miguel Cabrera, who tormented Kluber throughout his early years, hasn’t been able to catch up to the 32-year-old ace in recent seasons — since 2016, Cabrera is batting .120 with a .185 on-base percentage against Kluber. The rest of the current roster hasn’t fared much better in that timeframe either, hitting .171/.218/.239 with one home run.
Key matchup: Tigers hitters vs. making contact
As you’re well aware, Corey Kluber generates a lot of strikeouts. He has 95 in just 91 2⁄3 innings this year, and that 27.5 percent clip is down considerably from what he produced in 2017. While the Tigers have been relatively strikeout-averse compared to the rest of baseball, they aren’t quite as good at making contact against right-handed pitching. This goes double for a pitcher like Kluber, who fanned 13 Tigers in their lone meeting earlier this season. Sure, he got some help from umpire Jeff Nelson’s massive strike zone in that game, but the Tigers didn’t appear to have much of a chance on his pitches no matter where they were thrown. Let’s hope that turns around on Sunday.
Screw it. Lewicki beats Kluber.