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ON DECK: Tigers welcome in first-place Indians as trade deadline looms

The Detroit Tigers picked up their first series win of the second half following an 8-4 win over division rival Kansas City on Wednesday. The eight runs in the rubber match were the most they had scored in a game since July 9 (a stretch of 11 games) Also in that three-game set, Detroit opened it up with a miraculous ninth-inning comeback on Monday that resulted in a 5-4 victory.

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With the trade deadline right around the corner and deals being made left and right around the sport, the Tigers (44-60), carrying a handful of trade chips themselves, entertain the division rival and first-place Cleveland Indians (55-46) for a weekend series at Comerica.

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The Tribe has started their second half with an even 3-3 record, winning their last game against a red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates club to avoid a series sweep at home. This is a re-tooled Indians club since the Tigers last saw them. Cleveland struck a deal with the San Diego Padres, acquiring relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to address their bullpen woes, in exchange for their top prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia.

This is the first meeting between the two clubs in about a month and is also the third and final trip to the Motor City for the Indians. Detroit is 3-3 at home against their division rivals this year.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Carlos Carrasco (Indians) vs. Mike Fiers (Tigers)

The Indians’ Carlos Carrasco (12-5, 4.03 ERA) has not been quite as sharp this year, seeing his ERA soar to 4.75 over his last eight starts. Carrasco has only gotten through seven innings twice in that span, compared to five such instances in his first 10 starts of 2018. The 31-year-old has had very good success against the Tigers as of late and carries a 2.30 ERA in two starts against the cats this season.

With Michael Fulmer currently on the disabled list, Mike Fiers (7-6, 3.49 ERA) appears to be the Tigers’ most attractive trade piece given his impressive run as of late. His name has been recently linked to both Boston and the Oakland Athletics. After tossing 6.1 scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox last Saturday, Fiers now has a 2.47 ERA over his last 10 outings and has gone at least six innings in five straight starts. Another good start against the Indians (1-1, 3.00 ERA in three starts vs. CLE) may end up being his last for the Tigers.

Game 2 | Mike Clevinger (Indians) vs. Francisco Liriano (Tigers)

Mike Clevinger (7-6, 3.43 ERA) has been a steady starter for Cleveland this year, pitching at least six innings in 16 of his 20 starts. He did so for a fourth straight time in his first start out of the All-Star break last Sunday, allowing just two runs over 6.2 innings against the Texas Rangers in a hitter-friendly ballpark in Arlington. Clevinger will get his second look at the Tigers this season and the first since June 9 when he took a no-decision, yielding two earned over 6.2 frames.

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Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.73 ERA) failed to get through five innings for a third straight start his last time out, allowing three runs over 4.2 innings against the Royals. The performance likely further diminished his trade stock as a starter but teams may still look at him as a lefty specialist (.437 opp. OPS vs. LHB) or perhaps a long man in relief. This will be Liriano’s fourth start against the Indians this year (5.65 ERA vs. CLE).

Game 3 | Corey Kluber (Indians) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers)

The good news is that the Tigers are getting Corey Kluber (12-6, 2.88 ERA) in a time where he has been scuffling. The bad news is that the Tigers are getting Corey Kluber in a time where he has been scuffling. The reigning Cy Young winner in the American League has an ERA over 6.00 in his last five starts. He allowed a season-high seven runs in just four innings against the Pirates, although only three were officially earned. Seeing the Tigers may turn things around for the Klu-Bot, unfortunately (1.13 ERA in two starts vs. DET).

In his first start in nearly two whole weeks, Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.97 ERA) was not nearly as crisp in his last start as we had seen him recently. He muscled through five innings against the Royals, giving up four runs and multiple gopher balls for a second consecutive appearance. He is going to make his first start against the Indians since way back on April 11. In that game, he lasted just 0.2 innings before departing with a jaw injury following a comebacker off the bat of Jason Kipnis.

Any chance of the Tigers finding a trade partner for Zimmermann’s services this season could happen in August via the waiver wire.

HITTERS TO WATCH

The Indians as a team have a .875 OPS early on in this second half, much of that coming from guys who are primarily “role players” for them. But Edwin Encarnación is a regular run-producer who has come out of the break red-hot. Encarnación, whose 71 RBI ranks second on the team, hit just .223 in the first half. In six games since the break, he is 8 for 17 (.471 BA) with an OPS approaching 1.300 (.777 OPS in the first half).

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While the Tigers were visiting the City of Fountains this week, Victor Martínez may have found the fountain of youth. Martínez in that series with the Royals went 6 for 12 with a double, a homer, and five runs batted in. The home run on Tuesday was just his fifth on the season and first since May 19. It was also the first time he recorded multiple RBI in consecutive games since May 7-8. Can he carry that into a home series against his former employer? Martínez has just a .425 OPS in 40 at-bats against the Indians this season.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Fri, July 27 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 2 | Sat, July 28 @ 6:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 3 | Sun, July 29 @ 1:10 p.m. ET

All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check your local listings for regional radio broadcasts.

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