RHP Kluber vs. RHP Zimmermann
Jordan Zimmermann boasts a 0.66 ERA and 0.59 WHIP through two starts. He’s struck out 10 in 13.2 innings. Normally the Indians would be in line to bring him down a peg or two, but Cleveland’s offense has struggled enough that Zimmermann could give them more problems.
Corey Kluber is coming off a forgettable outing against the White Sox in which he didn’t even make it out of the fourth inning. The Indians will hope for him to resemble his Opening Day model when he went seven innings and gave up two earned runs.
RHP Bauer vs. LHP Boyd
Matthew Boyd has been among the most pleasantly surprising pitchers in baseball early on, wielding a respectable 3.18 ERA through two starts. His presence in this series will be impactful for a couple of reasons: he’s a lefty, which will inevitably cause a shake-up in the Indians batting order, and he has struck out 23 hitters in 11.1 innings. The Indians have the worst strikeout rate in the league, so they’ll need to bring an improved plate approach against Boyd if they plan on neutralizing his ability to punch guys out.
Luckily, if the Indians do happen to get rung up early and often by Boyd, the guy they have on the mound is the early-season front-runner for the AL Cy Young, Trevor Bauer. Bauer has given up exactly one hit in 14 innings and has struck out 17 opposing hitters. An emaciated Detroit lineup offers him a chance to continue his success.
RHP Bieber vs. RHP Turnbull
The Tigers will trot out Spencer Turnbull for the third game of the series, and although he’s been serviceable, he hasn’t kept opposing hitters off base like Zimmermann or amassed strikeouts like Boyd. He’s gone 11 innings with a 4.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 15 strikeouts.
Shane Bieber was as lights-out in his first start as any team has a right to ask their fifth starter to be, tossing six innings of two-hit, two-run ball against the Blue Jays. He sent nine Toronto hitters walking back to the dugout in sadness. Bieber represents a truth the rest of the league had better come to terms with very soon: there is no easy day against the Cleveland rotation.