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Detroit at Cleveland Preview: Tigers look to salvage the road series on Sunday

Detroit came up short in the first two games of the weekend set and needs a win to prevent the sweep.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Things have not gone to plan in the first two games of the Detroit Tigers’ road series against the Cleveland Indians. They dropped Saturday night’s tilt by a score of 11-3 after another paltry performance both on the mound and at bat. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that this team is not inspiring much confidence at the moment, as the Tribe crossed home plate in six of the eight innings they batted and prevented the visitors from scratching the scoreboard until the seventh.

Folks, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is probably not going to get much better on Sunday when the boys from the D try to salvage one out of three from the weekend series and prevent their first sweep of the season. Here is a look at what is on tap when the two teams send their men to the mound.

Detroit Tigers (3-5) @ Cleveland Baseball Team (4-3)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m. EDT, Progressive Field

SB Nation site: Covering the Corner

Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP José Ureña (0-1, 15.00 ERA) vs. LHP Logan Allen (0-1, 3.60 ERA)

Game 10 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 4 21.1 10.5 2.65 0.1
Greinke 13 17.8 2.2 2.37 0.3

Ureña struggled in his first outing of the season against the Minnesota Twins last week, using 81 pitches to get through 3 innings of poundings in which he gave up six runs — five earned — in the losing effort. He allowed four hits and four walks while surrendering a home run as well, though his five strikeouts could be something to build on against a more inferior Cleveland offense. But to say the least, his debut appearance was not inspiring.

Taking a look at his Baseball Savant numbers, out of those 81 pitches seven were put into play with just one getting barreled, but both his average (97.4 mph) and maximum (114.6 mph) exit velocities rank in the bottom four percent among MLB pitchers after a bit more than a week of play. While small sample size is a significant issue here, it should also be noted that his hard-hit percentage (71.4) and walk percentage (25) both rank in the bottom three percentile in the majors. Woof.

On the other bump for the Tribe is another one of their latest brood of young potent pitchers, Logan Allen who was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox but was swapped with the San Diego Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade. It was at his latter destination that he got his first cup of major league coffee before he was shipped off at the 2019 trade deadline to his current team in the Trevor Bauer trade. He now enters his second full season in Cleveland with a starting role for the time being.

The 23-year-old left hander has not put up eye-popping numbers over the course of his big league career so far, providing exactly replacement-level production to the tune of 0 fWAR over the course of 43 13 innings pitched. His career ERA is inflated by his poor performance with the Padres but since coming over to the Indians he has managed to keep it in the mid-threes, while his strikeout and walk percentages of 14.3 and 9.5 are the epitome of mediocre.

Also worth noting is that his fastball topped out at 94.1 mph last season but only reached 92.6 mph in his opening outing — which is 0.1 off his 2019 average of 92.7 mph — so whether this is a true drop in velo or just early season noise has yet to be determined.

Key Matchup: José Ureña vs. himself

If the Tigers are going to have any chance in this one, Ureña needs to step up a provide a quality outing for his team. Maybe it was rust, maybe it was the debut jitters, but one has to hope he is better than what we saw last time out and will regress back toward his career mean. That means cutting down the walks and keeping the ball out of the middle of the zone, which he struggled with against the Twins when throwing the sinker and slider. Pitching around Franmil Reyes and José Ramírez might not be a terrible idea either — not just for Ureña but the entire pitching staff.