The Cleveland Indians’ Josh Tomlin outdueled Justin Verlander in the Tribe’s 2-1 win in Detroit. Tomlin continues to pitch well now that he’s healthy.
There used to be a time for the Cleveland Indians going into Detroit to play the Tigers with Justin Verlander on the mound brought dread to the fans. The Tigers owned the Central, and Verlander pretty much owned everyone. Now, he’s now slouch, but the Indians took advantage of what few mistakes he made to take a 2-1 victory on Friday night. But it wasn’t about Verlander’s mistakes as much as it was Tomlin’s success.
Tomlin hasn’t gone deep into either of his starts, but he’s given quality starts in both. After allowing just one run on four hits over five innings against the New York Mets in his first start, he followed that with the same line over 6 2/3 innings in Friday’s win. And this year it’s not just Corey Kluber who isn’t getting support. In two starts the Indians have supported Tomlin with just two runs. The offense still looks a bit challenged, but should improve (hopefully) with Lonnie Chisenhall back and Michael Brantley in a week or so if his back-to-back starts in rehab go well.
Tomlin’s last start against the Tigers was even better, as he pitched a complete game on Sept. 4 in a 4-1 victory last season. He allowed just the one run on four hits in that game as well. Since his return last season, Tomlin has really only had one “poor” outing, and that was against the eventual World Champion Royals when he allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings. The Tribe still won the game, 9-5.
The question for many is if Tomlin can stay healthy. It seems like everytime things start to look up, another arm issue has shown it’s ugly face. But with a rotation that already has Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar–a solid Tomlin in the No. 4 spot could make the Indians that much more of a threat come September. If they can keep within shouting distance of the top through the All-Star break they could have a shot.
The Chicago White Sox won’t keep up the level of play they’ve started with. The Kansas City Royals are the Royals–they’ll be there at the end, and the Detroit Tigers fall in the same boat as the Indians. That’s why these head-to-head games will be critical for the Tribe. The need to beat the Twins, take two out of three against teams like Detroit and Chicago, and see where the cards fall against the Royals.
They’ve weathered the storm with this outfield so far. Chisenhall is back, Brantley is near a return. Now it will be a matter of those who were to be counted on entering this year to do their jobs. easier said than done, right?