Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers Preview and Pick – Lee vs. Willis

Cleveland Indians (28-35) PK, 9 at Detroit Tigers (26-36), 7 pm Eastern Monday, ESPN
by Zman of

Supposed AL Central contenders collide when the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers meet for the finale of a four-game series at Comerica Park Monday night.

Baseball bookies are listing this game, with lefties Cliff Lee and Dontrelle Willis starting for Cleveland and Detroit, respectively, at right around a pick ’em, with a total of 9 1/2.

The Indians took the opener of this series 4-2 Friday night, but the Tigers have taken the next two games by scores of 8-4 and 5-2. So going into Monday’s game, Cleveland sits in third place in the AL Central, 8 1/2 games back of the first-place Chicago White Sox, while Detroit occupies fourth place, 10 games from the lead.

These two teams split two games back in April, and both games went over their totals. Last year, the Tribe took 12 of 18 games from the Tigers, while the totals went 11-7, as the games averaged 10.8 total runs per.

Cleveland is 12-19 on the road this year, and 27-36 vs. the run line, while Detroit is 14-15 at home this season, and 32-30 vs. the run line.

Lee (9-1, 2.45) got off to a fabulous start to this season, but has come back toward reality recently. Over his last three starts, including a shaky outing vs. Texas last Wednesday, Lee has allowed 12 ER and 33 baserunners in 17 2/3 IP. Cleveland is 9-2 in Lee’s starts this season, the totals 4-7.


Lee started once last year vs. Detroit, and got clipped for five ER and 11 BR in just 4 1/3 innings of a 9-5 Cleveland loss.

Willis (0-0, 4.50) will be making his second start since coming off the DL last month. In his most recent outing, the first-year American Leaguer held the A’s scoreless on two hits and five walks in four innings at Oakland last Tuesday.

Detroit is 1-2 in Willis’ starts this year, as are the totals.

Willis started once last year for Florida vs. the Indians, allowing two ER and eight hits in seven innings of a 3-2 Marlins loss.

Offensively speaking, Cleveland ranks a paltry 29th in team batting this season at .241, 24th in OBP at .320, 23rd in slugging at .381, and is averaging 4.4 RPG.

Detroit ranks 15th in the majors in team batting at .259, 9th in team OBP at .333, 11th in team slugging at .413, and is averaging 4.7 runs per game.

The Cleveland bullpen has allowed 13 ER and 21 BR over its last five games, covering 13 1/3 IP.

The Tigers pen has given up 12 ER and 25 BR over its last five games, covering 15 2/3 innings of work.

On the injury front, both teams are missing key cogs in their lineup, with sluggers Travis Hafner and Gary Sheffield both still on the DL.

The totals are 27-35 in Indians games this year, 28-31 in Tigers games, and 14-12 in games played at Comerica Park, where games are averaging 11.2 total runs this season, 2nd- most among all ML ballparks.

Zman’s Pick: I like the Indians to steal one on the road tonight.