Aug. 29 MLB Preview — Cleveland Indians (78-55) at Detroit Tigers (39-91)

(Mike Clevinger photo courtesy Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 29, Comerica Park, Detroit, Mich., 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Currently the hottest pitcher on the Cleveland Indians, Mike Clevinger looks to run his personal winning streak to nine games Thursday when the AL Central contenders wrap up a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers.

Clevinger looks to give Tribe momentum heading into showdown with Rays

Clevinger (9-2, 3.00 ERA) has not lost since a disastrous outing against Baltimore in a 13-0 loss on June 28 — which came after making one start the previous two months due to upper back and ankle injuries.

The right-hander has since rolled to an 8-0 mark and 2.11 ERA in his last 10 appearances and looking to win a third straight start after limiting Kansas City to one run in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2 victory Saturday to improve to 9-0 lifetime versus the Royals.

“I just think it’s coincidence,” Clevinger told the Indians’ official website while brushing off talk of mastery over the Royals. “Things are clicking for me it seems like every time I face them, whether it’s mechanically, whether it’s running in two starts prior or it clicks the start against them.

“I mean, it’s a pitcher’s park over there. I don’t know how many times I threw there, but I’m sure I’ve had half the outings there, which is like the Polo Grounds, which helps out a lot, too.”

Clevinger has actually been better on the road than at home during his current run, winning all five starts outside Progressive Field with a 1.69 ERA. He has struck out 42 in 32 innings over that run and conceded just four extra-base hits.

It could also be a coincidence the way he has dominated Detroit of late, going 6-1 with a 1.33 ERA in the last eight matchups. The righty matched a season high with 12 strikeouts in a 7-2 home win over the Tigers on July 17, yielding one run in six innings.

While Miguel Cabrera has taken him deep and added two doubles, those are his only three hits in 18 at-bats against Clevinger.

Norris looks to make most of piggyback start for Tigers

Daniel Norris (3-10, 4.70) has only one victory since beating the Minnesota Twins on May 12, but the left-hander has put the Tigers in a position to win in his last two starts by being effective out of the gate while manager Ron Gardenhire has been using a “piggyback” method in which he uses two starters at a time in games.

Gardenhire is expected to use that method again in this game, with Drew VerHagen (4-2, 6.31) expected to follow Norris.

Norris had recorded back-to-back three-inning shutout stints at Tampa Bay and Houston and matched zeroes with Justin Verlander on Aug. 21 as part of Detroit’s 2-1 victory in the most recent outing. He has been reached for three hits and two walks over those six innings while throwing 96 pitches.

“Like last time, just come out firing,” Norris told the club’s official website about his new role. “I want to use my best pitches when I get ahead. Today I was able to get ahead and attack and have conviction with all my pitches, and I felt good with that.”

A shorter outing versus the Indians may do Norris good considering he was knocked around for 11 runs and 16 hits in 12 2-3 innings over a pair of starts earlier this year in Cleveland. He took the loss in an 8-3 setback June 23 and did not get a decision in Detroit’s 8-6 defeat July 15.

Norris won his only start at home versus Cleveland in 2017 and is 3-1 with a 3.89 ERA in seven lifetime starts against the Indians.

Notable Trends

The Tigers are:

  • 2-11 in their last 13 Thursday games.
  • 6-22 in Norris’ last 28 home starts.
  • 0-5 in Norris’ last five starts vs. AL Central teams.

The Indians are:

  • 14-3 in Clevinger’s last 17 starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 22-5 in Clevinger’s last 27 starts vs. AL Central teams.
  • 5-0 in Clevinger’s last five road starts.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Indians -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-160)

The Indians are 9-1 at the midway point during Clevinger’s winning streak and 10-2-3 in the season series versus the Tigers. That includes a 6-1-1 mark at Comerica Park, and Cleveland is also 3-1-1 at the midway point in its last five overall.

Norris has helped get the Tigers to a five-inning lead in his two piggyback starts, but both margins were 1-0, and the feeling is that luck runs out here.

****4-Star Pick****

UNDER 9 runs (-120)

Clevinger makes this a worthwhile pick, with the intrigue coming from Norris’ turn in the first three innings. If the left-hander can carry his road form from the last two outings to Comerica Park, it puts the under in terrific shape.

The concern is Norris is 1-6 with a 5.04 ERA in nine starts at home, which cancels out most of his relatively solid work versus the Indians. Still, Clevinger’s road form gives the under the play. This line has moved down to 8.5 runs, so hopefully you got in early and avoided the low-side hook.

UNDER 4.5 runs (-125)

A confidence pick in both Clevinger and Norris, with the expectation the latter will not come undone after two promising performances in his new role. The five-inning under has been rolling with the Indians, entering this contest 7-0-2 in their last nine games and has gone 4-2-1 in Clevinger’s outings against division rivals.

The under is also 6-2 in Detroit’s last eight home games and has delivered in five of the last seven overall.

***3-Star Picks***

Indians -2.5 runs (-105)

Everything points to Clevinger and the Indians in this matchup from his blistering road form to recent dominance over the Tigers and Cleveland’s need to head to Tampa in the right frame of mind for a pivotal wild-card showdown versus the Rays.

Cleveland’s season-long dominance in the series — the Indians have won 14 of 15 between the teams in 2019 — makes the alternate line available at worth a play. The Indians have recorded nine of those 14 victories by three or more runs, and four of their seven in Detroit have been by a three-run margin or better.

Tigers UNDER 3 runs (-121)

Detroit has cleared three runs just once in its last seven home games and held to two or fewer runs in nine of the 15 games between the teams. The Indians have also blanked the Tigers four times in 2019, recording one in at least series.

The Tigers have been held to three runs in the first two games but did score in each of them, so Clevinger has a little bit of pressure to extend that streak.

Tigers UNDER 0.5 runs first 3 innings (+111)

Clevinger’s road form during his win streak, specifically in the first three innings, make this an aggressive play worthwhile. The right-hander has conceded a run in the first three innings just once in his last five road starts and blanked Detroit over the first three frames in his previous matchup.

The Tigers also have been held off the scoreboard in the first three innings in five of their last seven contests.

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