Cleveland Indians: 6 Reasons They Will Beat the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central
Cleveland currently sits one and a half games back of the Tigers and the teams are also tied in the loss column.
A series victory could bring them the lead and could go a long way to them securing the AL Central crown.
Regardless of how the series turns out, expect the Indians to be on top when everything comes to an end in the 2011 MLB season and here are six reasons why.
They Have Better Pitching
"Rabble rabble rabble Justin Verlander! Rabble rabble rabble Cy Young! Rabble rabble rabble!" Yeah, I get it, Verlander will probably take home the Cy Young award for the American League this year.
It will be a nice compensation prize for losing the AL Central.
Despite Verlander being literally un-hittable earlier this year and nearly un-hittable since, the 6'5" freak of nature can only pitch every fifth day. His sparkling 2.31 ERA just makes his teams complete 4.23 ERA look all the more ugly.
The Indians ERA sits at 3.88 thanks to a very well rounded rotation and bullpen.
The oft-criticized Fausto Carmona has started to look more like the ace he was supposed to be in 2011 as he has a 2.51 ERA in the last two months.
David Huff has been great and finally adds a southpaw to the mix, while Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson continue to anchor the starting five.
That Verlander kid may be the best pitcher in the AL, but that doesn't do much for the other four guys that Detroit sends to the mound.
They Own the Better Record Head to Head
This is pretty simple, head to head the Indians handle Detroit easily.
The Tribe have outscored Detroit 41 to 34 in their matchups, culminating in a 6-3 record against them.
At home, they are 5-1, but only 1-2 on the road.
Plus, Verlander is not set to pitch against the Indians in the upcoming road series, so that road record should improve.
They Are the Hotter Team
While the Indians have only won one more game than the Tigers in August, they have been playing much better than their foe.
Detroit's run differential in August in minus six as they have had trouble preventing runs, giving up 73.
On the other hand, the Tribe's run differential is a positive 16 since they have done such a good job preventing runs only allowing 55. They have also had 71 men cross the plate in the month.
While the Indians seem to just keep getting better every day, Detroit looks as though they are close to entering into a slump and will relinquish their AL Central lead.
They Can Only Get Better
Despite playing some of their best baseball since the beginning of the year, there are even brighter days ahead for the Indians (Get it? Because the picture is dark? OK, I'll stop trying to be funny).
Lonnie Chisenhall entered the season and Cleveland's top prospect, but has not played like it—yet.
Chisenhall only holds a .231 BA and has only belted three home runs, but he has shown flashes of his bright future and could get hot any day to help bolster Cleveland's offense.
In addition, Carmona has been pitching better since returning from the DL, as evidenced by his aforementioned 2.51 ERA in that span. Carlos Carrasco can also return from the DL and bolster the rotation or the bullpen if he can find his June form.
Don't forget about September call-ups either. When rosters expand at the end of the month, a flood of prospects will get their taste of action in Cleveland. While Detroit does not have much of a farm system, Cleveland's has a lot of quality talent that is major league ready, mostly in the bullpen.
Nick Hagadone, acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Victor Martinez deal, is a southpaw reliever that consistently hits the high 90s. He has definite closer potential and Vinnie Pestano shows that rookie relievers can make an immediate impact.
On the offensive side of things, Nick Johnson can come in and provide some solid bench power and play first base to rest Matt LaPorta along with our eyes from having to see Carlos Santana's sometimes atrocious play there.
One player to look out for in September is possible call-up Jerad Head. The 28-year-old career minor leaguer is having his best season and this could be his only chance at a promotion.
Head is a corner outfielder with pop—exactly what the Indians were dying for at the trade deadline. Head has a .282/.336/.525 slash line at Triple-A Columbus and 23 home runs. He might not be an every day player, but he could definitely contribute to the club.
They Want It More
There's not much more to say, Cleveland is more determined to take the division. Their clubhouse is hungrier and the front office is making larger moves to bolster the team.
While Detroit acquired a fringe third baseman in Wilson Betemit and an average starter in Doug Fister, Cleveland acquired an every day outfielder in Kosuke Fukudome and an ace in Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Indians are determined to make the playoffs and compete, while Detroit just thinks it would be nice to make the trip.
This Is Their Year
With everything but the loss column trending upwards in Cleveland, how can they not win the division?
The walk off grand slams, breakout years from Asdrubal Cabrera and Masterson and the emergence of rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis are only just a handful of amazing things that have occurred in Progressive Field in 2011.
Cleveland has only been rivaled by Disney World with the magic that has happened. Despite a June swoon and offensive issues, the Indians continue to find ways of winning.
It's like a kid's sports movie. First they're a bunch of cast-off kids that aren't expected to do anything. Then a confident coach comes in and changes the clubhouse dynamic—Manny Acta. Once they start to impress a bit, they go out and get the best athlete on the block—Ubaldo Jimenez—and become a force to be reckoned with.
Whether they end up with the happy ending of the championship or get heart-breakingly close has yet to be seen, but you can bet the Tribe will be there after they take control of the AL Central.
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