- Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 4.50 ERA/4.86 SIERA) vs. Graham Godfrey (0-2, 4.09 ERA/5.65 SIERA)
- Jeanmar Gomez (0-0, 2.25 ERA/0.54 SIERA) vs. Brandon McCarthy (0-2, 3.60 ERA/3.98 SIERA)
- Justin Masterson (0-1, 3.82 ERA/3.84 SIERA) vs. Tyson Ross (0-0, 3.00 ERA/.76 SIERA)
Game one gives us our third look at Ubaldo Jimenez in 2012. The question is, which version are we going to get? Will we see the dominant pitcher who shut down the Blue Jays or will we see the pitcher who struggled with his command and labored through five less-than-spectacular innings in Kansas City? Despite what we’ve seen from Jimenez as an Indian, I’m attributing the control issues in his last start to the fact he missed his scheduled spot in the rotation due to his five-game suspension. In a big ballpark against a lineup that struggles to score, this should be a game where we see the dominant Jimenez. If not, then we might have a problem.
As for Godfrey, this will only be his seventh major league start so there isn’t a lot to go on in terms of a track record. He’s actually quite similar to Josh Tomlin in that he has a very low K/9 rate (3.27), he relies heavily on contact, and he gets a large percentage of his out coming via fly balls (54 percent). Considering the fact he plays in Oakland, that’s not a bad thing. Still, Godfrey is the type of pitcher the Indians should be able to take advantage of.
In game two, Jeanmar Gomez will get the start before fulfilling his five game suspension—punishment for the altercation that took place in Kansas City. So far this season Gomez has been solid in his limited time on the mound. He had a great spring and everyone is chomping at the bit to see what he can provide this team over the course of six or seven innings.
The A’s will counter with their ace, Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has long been believed to have front-of-the-rotation stuff, but he just hasn’t been able to put it together. During his time with the White Sox and Rangers he was constantly bounced back and forth between the bigs and Triple A and could never really get things right. Now in Oakland it feels as if he’s been christened the ace mostly because there’s no one else to take that spot. Is he capable of putting together a strong outing? Of course. It’s consistency that’s the issue.
The series finale gives Justin Masterson the chance to right the ship. After a dominant start on Opening Day, Masterson has seemingly fallen apart during his last two outings. In his season debut Masterson routinely got ahead in counts and forced the Blue Jays to swing at his pitches, but in his last two starts he’s lost his command at some point, gotten behind in counts, and let the advantage shift to the hitter’s favor. All of this points to something that should be easily rectified in his mechanics.
Meanwhile the A’s will trot out Tyson Ross, who has just nine career starts so again, there’s not much to go on here. Like Godfrey, he’s a young pitcher still looking to find a foothold at the major league level. He’s a ground ball pitcher (53 percent groundball rate so far in his career) who forces contact despite the fact his fastball can reach 93-94 MPH. Again, this is a pitcher the Indians should be able to handle.
Players to Watch: Oakland
- Josh Reddick: Reddick spent 2011 with Boston and was one of the centerpieces of the offseason trade that sent Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox. Now as the A’s starting right fielder Reddick has cemented himself in the No. 3 hole thanks to his combination of raw power and speed. He also has a cannon for an arm and leads the majors with four outfield assists. The Indians should think long and hard before testing him: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D.
- Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes was a highly touted Cuban defector known for his power. So far for the A’s he’s been everything as advertised helping be a key cog in the middle of the order. Make a mistake to him and he will hit it a mile.
Players to Watch: Indians
- Shelley Duncan: He’s off to a great start to the 2012 season. Can he keep it going and keep his job with Johnny Damon waiting in the wings?
- Jeanmar Gomez: Will Gomez finally get in more than two innings worth of work? Most likely. The real question is, can Gomez be as dominant as he was this spring? If he is, it’s going to be a long day for the A’s.
Trivia Answer: On February 21, 2011 Justine Siegal became the first woman to throw batting practice to a Major League baseball team when she threw to Cleveland Indians hitters. Three days later she threw batting practice to the A’s at their camp. Siegal has long been an advocate for women in baseball, and Manny Acta was impressed by her performance.