Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians Series Preview

The AL Central pennant chase continues to heat up as the summer wears on, as the Cleveland Indians look to gain ground in the standings on the visiting Detroit Tigers during a three-game series starting on Friday.

Detroit has gone 10-20 in their past 30 games, watching one of baseball's biggest early season division leads completely disintegrate over the past month.

With the Royals moving into first and the Tigers falling back, the Indians have been treading water lately - going 5-5 in their last ten to remain within 2.5 games of first place.


Home: Cleveland Indians (37-36, 23-12 home)

Away: Detroit Tigers (37-32, 18-13 away)

Key Stat:

The Tigers' pitching, a perceived strength coming into 2014, has been their Achilles heel during their current swoon. Their staff has the third-worst ERA in all of baseball this June (4.98), and they are the only team this month to have just two recorded saves.

Tigers Notes:

On May 18th, the Detroit Tigers were 27-12 and owners of the best record in Major League Baseball.

On that same day, the Kansas City Royals were 22-21 - marking the last time they would be over .500 until June 11th.

However, somehow and some way, the Detroit Tigers leave their series with Kansas City looking up at the Royals in the standings.

It's been a month to forget for the Tigers, but don't fret quite yet...this marks the third year out of four which Detroit has been out of first place in the AL Central as of June 18th.

It hasn't mattered yet, as the Tigers are the three-time defending division champs.

Indians Notes:

Indians manager Terry Francona had some good news regarding the status of left fielder Michael Brantley, indicating that he suffered just a "mild concussion" during Monday's game against the Angels, per Stephanie Storm of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Brantley took a knee to the head while sliding into second base trying to break up a double play.

He was held out of Tuesday's contest for what is being termed as "precautionary reasons," but won't spend any time on the disabled list.

“I just didn’t feel perfect,” Brantley said, via Storm's article on Wednesday. “It’s a day-by-day process and I’m looking forward to getting back with the team as soon as possible. [But I need to] listen to what the medical staff says and make sure I’m able to go 100 percent.”

What to Watch For:

Will the real Justin Verlander please stand up?

Verlander (6-7, 4.98) has been an enigma all season long. He had a relatively normal April, but has seen his ERA balloon over the past two months from 2.48 on April 29th to 4.98 on June 16th after getting rocked for seven runs in six innings in Monday's 11-8 loss to the Royals.

The six-time AL All-Star will look to get back on track on Saturday against Cleveland's Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.35), who is currently on pace to strike out over 220 batters in 2014.

What They're Saying About the Tigers:

Sneaky Anibal Sanchez steps into Tigers' stopper role for now (The Detroit News)

Time to face facts - these Detroit Tigers stink right now (Detroit Free Press)

What They're Saying About the Indians:

Indians and Angels washed out on Wednesday night in Cleveland (Wahoo's On First)

Tribe activates McAllister, designates Outman (Akron Beacon Journal)

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