The Detroit Tigers take on the Cleveland Indians in game three of their three-game series on Sunday afternoon from Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Tigers surprised many to start the season after they took the opening series against the Indians but then proceeded to drop the follow-up series to Minnesota. Cleveland on the other hand was able to follow up their series loss to Detroit by splitting with the Royals at home before welcome the Tigers to town for the rematch. Both teams would love nothing more than a win going into their mid-week series, but who will come out on top in this one?
Tigers Worried About RotationThe Tigers have been a pleasant surprise to baseball fans so far in 2021, sitting just under .500 in the early going as they continue to build and develop their young talent for the future. Veteran Wilson Ramos has been the leader so far from a power standpoint, hitting three home runs and batting .263. Young phenom Akil Baddoo has been the talk of MLB this season, especially as he cements himself as a mainstay in the Detroit lineup. He’s hitting .385 so far, with two home runs and a team-leading seven RBIs, and continues to be a tough out every time he steps to the plate. Nomar Mazara has been a great addition from the Rangers in the off-season from an experience standpoint but needs to find his smooth swing again, while Willi Castro is hitting .272 and looks to be the answer at shortstop for the time being at least.
According to MLB.com, Jose Urena is expected to get his second start of the season on Sunday afternoon after getting the loss in his first start of the season. On Monday he only threw 39 of his 81 pitches for strikes, a troubling sign that existed in Spring Training as well. In his first start with the Tigers after spending six seasons in Miami, he gave up five earned runs in the opener, striking out five but walking four, in only three innings of action. Urena has failed to go over .500 since going 14-7 in 2017 and has had an ERA above five in his of the last two years.
Urena hasn’t faced the Indians in the last three years and according to Baseball Savant, Cleveland hitters have 60 at-bats against him all-time. Across that span, they have 17 hits, with Amed Rosario hitting .400 against him with a home run. Cleveland batters, in general, are hitting .283 against him which isn’t terrible, but have no walks and have 13 strikeouts against him. If Urena struggles as he did in the opener, it’ll be on the Detroit bullpen to get things sorted out on Sunday. Michael Fulmer has been the long-relief leader, appearing in three games and throwing seven innings, allowing only two runs and striking out ten, so probably would be relied on to carry the game over into the short relievers if necessary.
Indians Power Heating UpFranmil Reyes hit two home runs in Friday’s win to show that the power is still in the lineup, even despite the offseason loss of Carlos Santana. Reyes has three long balls on the season and is hitting .304. Even though Santana stepped away from the club, perennial MVP-candidate, Jose Ramirez, is still in Cleveland and is hitting .375 on the season and slugging .667. Eddie Rosario and Reyes are tied atop the team lead in RBIs, both with five. Usually one of the better offenses in the league, the Indians have only scored more than four runs once this season and are hitting just a hair above .200 as a team. After dropping the opening series to Detroit, the Indians will want to make sure to rack up as many wins as they can against the AL Central’s perceived bottom of the totem-pole before taking on the White Sox in the mid-week and the red-hot Reds next weekend.
Logan Allen will get his second start of the season Sunday as the Indians look to finish the weekend strong, according to MLB.com. While he did get the loss in his first start against the Royals, it more had to do with the lack of offensive production than his outing. Allen threw five innings, allowing five hits and only two runs but also only struck out three and allowed two walks. Allen was a fringe member of the rotation coming into the year but quickly looks like he could be one of the leaders when it’s all said and done. The Tigers game on Sunday will be a great opportunity for him to continue to prove himself and for the lefty to gain momentum.
Last year Allen came out of the bullpen and appeared in one game against Detroit. In the August 23rd matchup he threw 4.2 innings, giving up three runs and striking out two. In 2019 he didn’t see any of the Tigers, meaning he’s relatively inexperienced against their bunch. According to Baseball Savant, the Detroit lineup has 15 at-bats and 19 plate appearances total against Allen over the last few years. The Tigers have four hits, good for a batting average against of .267, with four walks and two strikeouts.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
After a slow start to the season, the Indians pitching at least seems to be finding their form and the offense is bound to come around sooner rather than later. Urena was awful in his opening start and Allen lights out, just didn’t get the help he needed. The Cleveland lineup should devour Urena and will get plenty of base runners unless something drastically changes about his command and control. The difference in this game, between two offenses that have been equally as unimpressive this year, will be the pitching and bullpen. The Indians have a team ERA of 2.94 compared to 5.29 for the Tigers, and Allen looked great in Monday’s game and should be able to keep that momentum going. Allen will keep the ball in the park and the Indians defense will be strong enough to have his back and at least produce more runs than they did in his start against Kansas City.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Indians are only hitting .216 on the year, while the Tigers are hitting .211, and it doesn’t look like either offense will erupt on Sunday. The Tigers have only scored more than three runs once in their last five heading into the weekend set of games, while the Indians have only scored more than four once in that same time frame. Additionally, according to covers.com, for the Tigers, the under is 4-0 in their last four games as a road underdog, is 5-0 in their last five games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30, is 4-0 in their last four road games, and is 6-1 in their last seven-game 3s of a series. For the Indians, the under is 5-1 in their last six overall, is 5-1 in their last six games as a favorite, is 5-1 in their last six on grass, and is 5-1 in their last six games vs. American League Central opponents. In games between the two teams, the under is is 5-2 in the last seven meetings overall.