Two AL Central foes square off in a three-game series this weekend in Detroit. A couple weeks ago the Indians were part of the AL Central battle, but their recent six-game losing streak has them way behind the eight ball now. Detroit still sits second in the division, but they are nipping at the heels of the Chicago White Sox.
Justin Masterson is considered the Ace of the Cleveland Indians staff, but his 4.54 ERA is very mediocre. Still, that 4.54 ERA is the best of any regular starter so far this year for Cleveland. That number in itself explains why the Indians have fallen on hard times of late. Cleveland’s pitching staff has been terrible. During their current six-game losing streak, the Indians are allowing eight runs per game. Masterson is 3-5 with a 6.05 ERA on the road this year.
Cleveland has a deep lineup, but there are no really super stars here. Shin-soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera are the team’s two best overall hitters. Carlos Santana’s .238 average and 11 homers have been a major disappointment for the team in 2012. Casey Kotchman is hitting just .225 at first base. Travis Hafner will miss this game while on the paternity leave list, which means the Indians will lose a crucial hitter from the middle of their order.
The Detroit Tigers lineup got a nice boost when Omar Infante was brought over in a trade from Miami. Infante gives the team a solid second-baseman who can hit for an average and drive in some runs. Austin Jackson has a stellar .405 on-base-percentage from the leadoff spot this year, and that has really helped this offense. Miguel Cabrera leads the majors with 87 RBI’s, and Prince Fielder is hitting better than .300. Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young have both shown signs of life lately, and this team could really move forward if they keep up their current level of production.
Anibal Sanchez also came over in the Tigers recent trade with the Marlins. Sanchez gives the Tigers a solid number three or four starter. Detroit has been lacking starting pitching depth the last couple years, so I think the move to get Sanchez was a very good one. Sanchez has had an ERA below 4 in each of his last four seasons in the majors.
MLB Free Pick: Detroit ML
Cleveland is 4-25 in their last 29 games at Detroit. Anibal Sanchez is a more consistent pitcher than Justin Masterson right now, and the Tigers offense is heating up. I like Detroit to take care of business.