Thursday is the end of a four-game set between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians from Progressive Field in Cleveland. This American League Central rivalry hasn’t been very competitive this year, or the last couple of years for that matter. Coming into Thursday, Detroit is 1-11 in 2019 against the Indians. From 2016 to 2018, the Tigers are a combined 16-40 against their Cleveland counterparts.
Where Detroit has been struggling this season with only 29 wins, Cleveland has been turning it up. In July, they are 9-2 as they begin their push for the division as well as the playoffs. They are four games out of the division lead and are tied for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
For the Tigers, Matthew Boyd will take the hill for his 20th start of the season. In what has been a breakout season for the former Blue Jays prospect, Boyd is 6-7 with a 3.95 ERA. The win-loss record can be thrown out the window. The Tigers are terrible, and Boyd shouldn’t be judged by that. What he should be judged by, however, is how terrific he has been on a bad team.
His K/9 is 12 which is fourth highest among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. He’s in that category with Scherzer, Cole, and Sale as the only players with a K/9 that high. I understand that sometimes K/9 can be misleading, so let’s look at his K%. Oh, it’s over 32%, which is also the fourth highest after the same three names from before. Pretty elite company. His last three starts have been pretty impressive. In a total of 19 1/3 innings pitched, he has struck out 34 batters. While he was the victim of stupidly high BABIP in two of those three, those strikeouts are just laughably high.
For the Indians, Trevor Bauer will get the ball once again for his 22nd start of the season. This season has been much of the same that Indians fans have come to expect from the former No. 3 overall pick. This will inevitably be his fifth straight season of double-digit wins, and it is on track to be his second straight with an ERA under 4.
Even with how weak the American League Central is, that seems to be Bauer’s kryptonite. In six of his starts against division opponents, he has given up four or more runs, whereas that has only happened four times against the rest of the league. Bauer came into his last start on fire, picking up wins in four of his last five starts. Against the division-leading Twins, he struck out 11 batters in six frames. But he gave up three homers in the first two innings and got the loss.
Batter to Watch
Francisco Lindor is one of the most fun players in the league to watch and is the heart and soul of the Cleveland Indians. Since late June, he’s been on a tear. He has recorded a hit in 11 of his last 14 games, with five of them being multi-hit games.
The Tigers are not good. Trevor Bauer is good. The Indians can’t afford to lose games like this, even against Matt Boyd, if they want to catch the Twins. Take the Indians.