The Tigers improved to 6-0 with a plus-31 run differential after their 8-5 dismantling of the Indians on Sunday. The win was driven by Miguel Cabrera, who hit two home runs and is now slashing .520/.586/.840 for the young season.
"It's good to see. You can see what happens when he is healthy. It's good to see that he's progressed and he's feeling good. I know he can't keep this up, but I wouldn't be surprised if he goes out there and has just a superb year,” Tigers President and GM Dave Dombrowski said.
Cabrera has been a top-three fantasy draft pick in most leagues for the past 10 years, but saw his stock tumble heading into this season after “only” hitting .313-25-109 last season and undergoing ankle surgery during the offseason. Like several of his teammates, Cabrera has been red hot during the early season and is proving to be healthy.
The Tigers are also getting plenty out of Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes, J.D. Martinez, and Jose Iglesias. Of course, this says as much about the team’s sub-par pitching opponents early in the year as it does the team’s lineup, but it’s a good sign for a lineup that looked stellar on paper entering the season.
The Tigers are likely to slow down this week while facing Pittsburgh’s top three starters without the advantage of the DH, followed by the White Sox top three starters at home. Still, the team’s fast start has been a positive following the offseason loss of Max Scherzer and injuries to Justin Verlander, Joe Nathan, and Bruce Rondon.
Gomes Out 6-8 Weeks
Indians catcher Yan Gomes got bad news after getting taken out on a Rajai Davis slide at the plate on Saturday. He will miss 6-8 weeks with a moderate right MCL sprain. Cleveland is forced to run with Roberto Perez as their starting catcher for the time being, with Brett Hayes set to be called up as his backup.
Manager Terry Francona did state his confidence in Perez before Sunday’s game.
"Losing Gomes, man, that can be a season killer," Francona said. "But Perez can handle this. He's strong enough to catch every day."
Of course, that endorsement doesn’t necessarily mean that the Indians won’t be looking for alternatives. Dioner Navarro and Welington Castillo have been popular names in trade rumors since the offseason, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Indians are connected to those names. It’s clear, however, that the team doesn’t plan on installing former starting catcher Carlos Santana regularly at the position. Santana played only 11 games at catcher last season, and remains the team’s third catcher.
As for Perez, he becomes a mandatory pick up in AL-only leagues with regular playing time on the horizon, but his minor league track record suggests that we shouldn’t expect too much. Perez was a career .236 minor league hitter with minimal power, though he did get on a nice streak last year at Triple-A Columbus and hit .305. Though, the upside seems quite limited by looking at this history.
Hawkins on the Hot Seat
We could have our first closer removal of the year soon if LaTroy Hawkins doesn’t turn it around quickly. He blew a two-run lead against the Cubs on Sunday after giving up a homer to Dexter Fowler, and now has two blown saves this season.
Hawkins has an unsightly 16.88 ERA through three appearances. It’s not a shock that we’d see some early struggles from the 42-year-old veteran after he posted a mediocre 5.3 K/9 last season. Hawkins didn’t exactly show much confidence after his most recent blown save.
"I'm just searching right now," Hawkins said. "It will come. It will come. Just a tough game."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said during spring training that Adam Ottavino would be the next in line for saves before crowning lefty Boone Logan his setup man just before Opening Day. The Rockies also roster former closers John Axford and Rafael Betancourt, making an initial committee prediction probably the smartest bet should Weiss decide to remove Hawkins from the closer role.
To this point, Ottavino has done nothing to show that he isn’t deserving of Weiss’ past praise with 4.1 scoreless innings and only one hit allowed, along with seven strikeouts. He’s a smart addition in the few leagues that he remains unclaimed, though Logan and Betancourt are also wise additions for true saves speculators.
National League Quick Hits: Mike Minor has been sent back to Atlanta after feeling renewed discomfort in his shoulder when he threw off a mound. This obviously pushes back his timetable, which looked like May previously … Henderson Alvarez is headed for an MRI on his right elbow after allowing four runs in five innings on Sunday. He’s had shoulder issues in the past … Jake Peavy returned from back discomfort to allow four runs in four innings against the Padres on Sunday. He struggled late in spring, and his return shouldn’t instill confidence in his fantasy owners for his next start … Joel Peralta recorded his second save of the season on Sunday, this one of the one-out variety after Chris Hatcher struggled in the ninth inning. The save and Hatcher’s struggles should further cement his role as the primary ninth inning option while Kenley Jansen is sidelined … Jayson Werth (shoulder) is likely to come off the DL on Monday … Utilityman Don Kelly was diagnosed with a fractured right ring finger on Sunday, and is likely headed to the DL … Casey McGehee got a favorable diagnosis of a bone bruise in his left knee on Sunday. He had a cortisone shot and is currently day-to-day.
American League Quick Hits: Felix Hernandez was removed from his start Sunday due to right quad tightness. At this point, the injury isn’t considered serious … Yordano Ventura was removed from his start Sunday with a right calf cramp. He should be fine for his next start … After a great first start to the season, Clay Buchholz was roughed up for nine earned runs in 3.1 innings on national TV Sunday. The pattern is all too familiar to fantasy owners who saw Buchholz struggle last season … Red Sox closer Koji Uehara (hamstring) is set to come off the DL on Monday, and should immediately regain his role as Boston’s closer … Rusney Castillo is headed back to Boston after jamming his shoulder in a Triple-A game on Saturday. The team doesn’t think the injury is serious, but it’s another disturbing occurrence for a player who has had trouble staying healthy since arriving to the Red Sox late last season … Chris Sale made up for lost time after missing the Opening Day start with a broken foot, allowing one run and fanning eight batters in six innings … Drew Smyly (shoulder) will have three more rehab starts before returning for the Rays.