There are still plenty of games to go in the 2019 season, but a little bit of reality came crashing down Tuesday as early-season hero Jordan Zimmermann was roughed up against the Indians. Coupled with the bats cooling down as well, the Tigers dropped the series opener to the presumed champions of the AL Central, who used the win to move into first place.
Cleveland has not looked like a complete team, however, as the Indians’ bats have struggled just as badly as the Tigers’. That should be a welcome sight for Matthew Boyd, who leads the American League with a casual 0.01 FIP. That number will of course regress into something more realistic, but the breakout candidate has been electric to start the season so far.
Boyd enters Cleveland off a 13-strikeout start, giving him 23 on the year for a 47.9 percent strikeout rate. Obviously this is cannot continue forever, but the 27-year-old lefty showed great improvement in this department last season and it seems to be continuing. The Indians lead the league in strikeout rate, leading to a tasty matchup on Wednesday.
Cleveland Indians (7-3) at Detroit Tigers (7-4)
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 Trevor Bauer (1-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (0-1, 3.18 ERA)
Game 12 Pitching Matchup
As good as Boyd has been to start the season, his counterpart has been even better to open 2019. After four straight seasons with an ERA over 4.00, Trevor Bauer finally made the leap last year, stifling hitters with a dominant arsenal. His 2.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 3.14 FIP were all career bests, and a late-season injury was the only blemish on an outstanding campaign.
This season, Bauer has thrown five different pitches over 10 percent of the time: his fastball, slider, change-up, cutter, and curveball. As a result, he ranks near the top with his 15.6 percent swinging strike rate and his 65.4 percent contact rate, numbers not too dissimilar from last season. The results from the former top prospect are no joke; Bauer is the real deal.
The first two starts of the year have yielded exactly seven innings both times for Bauer. He has surrendered a total of just one hit, although he has walked seven batters over those 14 frames. The Tigers are among the top of the leaderboard in walks in 2019, and their best bet for defeating Bauer might just be drawing some free passes and upping his pitch count.
Key matchup: Strikeout pitchers vs. strikeout-happy lineups
Bauer and Boyd are two of the hottest pitchers to start the season, and they get the honor of facing two offenses that have yet to wake up from hibernation. All signs point to a pitcher’s duel, and it may only take a run or two to win the game. Best of luck to the batters on both sides of this one.
Boyd hits double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season but still earns the loss.