First Pitch: 1:10 ET
Cleveland: Shane Bieber (2020: 8-1; 1.63 ERA; 77.1 IP, 122 Ks)
Detroit: Matt Boyd (2020: 3-7; 6.71 ERA; 60.1IP, 60 Ks)
The reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber gets the ball on Opening Day for the Cleveland Indians. Bieber had a solid spring and will look to prove his dominance over the course of a full season, and not just a shortened season in which he was on fire for the duration of 2020.
It should be no surprise that there aren’t many Tigers with exceptional statistics when facing Bieber. Some of their biggest names in Jeimer Candalario , Willi Castro, and Miguel Cabrera have gone a career 5-for-33 (.151 avg) when facing the Indians ace.
For the Tigers, their opening day starter will be lefty Matt Boyd who is coming off of a putrid 2020. Beyond the 6+ ERA in 2020, he also allowed an MLB-high 15 home runs to opposing batters. Quite frankly, the entire Tigers pitching staff was awful in 2020, they had a 5+ ERA which is near the bottom of MLB.
The most familiar face for Boyd when he faces the Cleveland Indians will be catcher Roberto Perez who in 14 plate appearances against Boyd is hitting .400 with a home run and a .971 OPS. The other player to watch for the Indians against Boyd is a potential leadoff hitter in Jordan Luplow. Luplow has a career .308 average, but a 1.077 OPS facing Boyd in 13 plate appearances.
These stats while historical are important. The 2021 Indians will be basing the strength of their ability to contend on the production from their offense. Luplow himself figures to be in for another platoon year, and with a rotation of center fielders and even lead-off hitters expected, any good start will go a long way to help stabilize what is projecting to be a fluctuating Indians defense and lineup.
Each year brings new optimism, and 2020 was an odd MLB season for many reasons so its worth waiting and seeing if Boyd can rebound into his old form. Either way, the Indians will be facing a familiar face whom they should have a lot of confidence facing. With the Tigers having to overcome a Cy Young winner, this opening game could turn out to be a strong showcase for the Indians offensively. The Indians should win if they can knock around Boyd early and often.
For the Tigers to win, they’ll need to keep it within striking distance or force Bieber out early and test out the Indians’ new bullpen. The talent is there for the Indians, but the roles aren’t clearly defined or proven yet.