|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, September 1, 2017
Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan Attendance: 24,342
Indians to meet new-look Tigers in doubleheader
DETROIT -- The rebuild of the Detroit Tigers has gone from mildly abstract to full-blown reality.
The Thursday swap of left field stalwart Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels for top-10 pitching prospect Grayson Long plus a low-level minor leaguer to be named later completed the stripping of the corner outfielders with which Detroit opened the season.
J.D. Martinez, eligible for free agency at the end of the season, was dealt to Arizona well before the July 31 non-waiver deadline for three minor league infielders.
Upton reportedly told Detroit recently he was leaning toward opting out of his contract after the World Series because he had no interest in participating in a rebuild, so general manager Al Avila immediately put him on the market.
The Tigers reportedly are sending the Angels less than $1 million in the deal but Los Angeles will be responsible for the remaining four years at $22.125 million annually if he decides to pass on his opt-out clause.
What that means to Cleveland is that it will face one less big bat in the middle of a once-fearsome batting order when it visits Detroit for a four-game series beginning with Friday's day-night doubleheader.
It likely means more playing time in center for erratic rookie JaCoby Jones and full-time duty in right for Mikie Mahtook, who has been one of the few pleasant surprises for Detroit this season.
The Nicholas Castellanos outfield experiment might begin immediately -- in left field, not right -- depending upon the players Detroit brings up when rosters can expand Friday.
There was no psychic shock when Martinez was traded because rumors began in spring training. (And it wouldn't be entirely shocking if the Tigers were among the bidders when Martinez becomes a free agent since they will have some payroll freed up.)
Dealing closer Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila was not unexpected, either.
The trade of Upton, though, came almost out of the blue. Many felt he would not opt out of his contract because of the chance that decision could cost him millions.
"Justin Upton has been a consummate professional in his time here, and the Tigers wish him and his family all the best moving forward," Avila said in the news release announcing the deal.
Nobody in the Detroit farm system can come close to filling the hole left by the trade of Upton, which Cleveland will notice right away. With first baseman Miguel Cabrera dealing with back issues that have greatly diminished his production and Victor Martinez aging out, it clearly reduces the stress on manager Terry Francona's pitching staff.
Carlos Carrasco (13-6, 3.78 ERA) pitches Friday afternoon's makeup game for the Indians and one must forgive the right-hander if he looks over his shoulder now and then.
He has had some injury misfortune against Detroit, including a hamstring pull once covering first base and a fractured right hand last Sept. 17 when struck by a line drive in the first inning, an injury that put him out for the remainder of the season, including the postseason.
Carrasco is 3-1 against Detroit this season with a 2.36 ERA in four starts. Over his career, he is 9-7 with a 4.28 ERA against the Tigers in 23 games (18 starts).
Detroit's first-game pitcher will be left-hander Matt Boyd (5-8, 6.13 ERA), who lost to the Chicago White Sox in his most recent start but otherwise got good results from an unusual in-season revamping of his mechanics. Boyd is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts against the Indians this season, and 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA over his career against them.
Much of Detroit's plight this season can be traced to pitching, both starters and relievers.
Manager Brad Ausmus is likely to have his second-game starter, Buck Farmer, in the rotation through the rest of September. Farmer (3-1, 6.17 ERA) has been excellent in his three wins but poor otherwise.
Farmer hasn't faced Cleveland yet this year and is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA against the Indians in four career appearances (two starts).
The Indians will pitch Mike Clevinger (7-5, 3.72 ERA) in the night game. Clevinger is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA against the Tigers in two starts this season while over his career he is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four games (three starts).
Cleveland is playing its best ball of the season, which it also did a year ago en route to the World Series, going 19-9 in August.
"It was encouraging, I agree," Francona said. "But (the season's) not over. Whether you break them into weeks or months or road trips, that's all arbitrary. Your record is what matters, and then from here, where you go -- not necessarily what you did. So I never have gotten too caught up in it, because I don't think it's productive. But we did a good job."
Cleveland is participating in its second doubleheader in three days, having played a pair in New York against the Yankees on Wednesday.
"I'm trying to figure out a way to not to play guys more than three out of four," Francona said. "I don't know if that'll work or not, but we're going to at least attempt to do that."
Both clubs are not expected to overload their rosters will players from the minors and under Ausmus, Detroit has not called some players up until their minor league seasons were over.
Updated September 1, 2017