Friday night baseball in Motown kicks off a four game series that ultimately will cap a torrid stretch of 22 games in 20 days before Monday’s much-needed off day. The Indians have gone 11-7 so far through this particular scheduling challenge and come into the weekend in first place in the Central, seven games ahead of fourth place Detroit.
Tonight’s Indians starter will be Josh Tomlin in his 16th start of 2017. Tomlin’s performance this season has been inconsistent and mostly underwhelming as his 4-9 record and 6.09 ERA will attest. While his expert control is evidenced by his league-low 1.0 BB/9, Tomlin’s batting average against of .319 and 15 home runs allowed suggest he’s not fooling many batters who make contact.
If one wanted to get elbows deep into Sabermetrics, though, one might be inclined to point out Tomlin’s BABIP is .353, fifth worst in all of baseball, and his FIP is a more respectable 4.44. Has Tomlin been unlucky, or does his mix of low velo, control-reliant stuff leave him susceptible to wilder swings of batted ball outcomes?
Last season, Tomlin’s BABIP was just .276 and his FIP a more egregious 4.88. Otherwise, his peripherals were similar to this season. My takeaway? This is roughly the same Tomlin from last season who’s just experienced some odd bad luck and ought to regress to his usual league-average Civil War reenactor innings eater.
Opposing Jude Law tonight will be Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez, who was recently reinstalled in the starting rotation after a minor league demotion and bullpen stint. Sanchez has struggled in 2017 as well, only without the silver lining.
The 33-year-old Sanchez has allowed a stunning ten home runs in just 32 big league innings and his 6.75 ERA over 13 games (two starts) has seen some corroboration from his FIP (6.57). It’s been a slow, steady decline for the former Marlins’ prospect who pitched a no-hitter as a 22-year-old rookie in 2006. His ERA has hovered in the 5.00 region now for three years and he’s in the last guaranteed year of his contract, making almost $17 million in 2017.
His 2017 option of $16 million is unlikely to be exercised, although his buyout is stiff a robust $5 million. Such is the price of failure in America.
Line-ups are below, and first pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET.