- Derek Lowe (6-3, 3.25 ERA/4.08 SIERA) vs. Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.46/4.21)
- Josh Tomlin (2-2, 4.99/3.65) vs. P.J. Walters (2-1, 2.96/4.14)
- Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.14/4.27) vs. Scott Diamond (3-1, 2.27/2.70)
Derek Lowe has been great all season long, then Saturday in Chicago happened. Suffice to say is Lowe’s sinker just wasn’t sinking. Anyone who knows anything about baseball understands what that means: Lowe got rocked. He threw only 2.1 innings, giving up 8 runs on 10 hits. The good news is he threw only 65 pitches. At least we know he’ll be fresh so don’t expect a repeat performance from Lowe. He’s a pro’s pro, meaning he’ll figure out what he did wrong, correct the problems, and pitch better.
Meanwhile, the Indians will get another shot at Carl Pavano. In his previous start versus the Indians he went six innings and allowed four runs. However he still got a no decision as the Indians rallied late to pull out a 5-4 victory. Since then Pavano has continued his up-and-down season. He pitched great over six innings against the Brewers but then struggled through 4.1 innings against Detroit. Which Pavano the Indians see is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure though: if both pitchers have their sinkers working we could be in for a lot of broken bats and ground balls.
Game two will feature Josh Tomlin in his second start since returning from the DL. In his first start back against the Royals he pitched great, minus the two long balls he gave up. His line for the night was four runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Not bad for someone suffering from soreness in his throwing wrist. If Tomlin can duplicate that performance against a much less potent Twins lineup, there is no reason why the Indians can’t win this game.
Tomlin’s opposition on Saturday will be P.J. Walters. In eight career starts (24 total appearances) Walters has been surprisingly effective for someone most Tribe fans have never heard of. For his career he holds a record of 4-1 despite posting an ERA over 5.00 and his velocity maxing out around 88 MPH. One could argue he’s been somewhat lucky given a BABIP of .236. Walters is the type of pitcher who pitches to contact and relies on his defense to make the plays behind him, so the Indians are likely to get pitches to hit. What they are able to do with those pitches will go a long way in determining the outcome.
In the finale, Justin Masterson will have an opportunity to redeem himself following a lackluster performance against the Royals on Tuesday. He didn’t really pitch that badly, he just had two awful innings in which the Royals hit him all over Progressive Field. Like Derek Lowe on Saturday, a flat sinker was Masterson’s downfall. Again, this happens every now and then to sinkerballers. Despite the outcome, the encouraging sign should be the fact that Masterson didn’t walk anyone over the course of six innings yet struck out eight. If he can duplicate that type of strike zone dominance and get his sinker to sink, Masterson could be in for a big day on the bump.
Meanwhile, the Twins will counter with another young pitcher, Scott Diamond. In 12 career starts he’s 4-6 with a 3.82 ERA. However, he’s been great for the Twins so far in 2012 as his 3-1 record and 2.27 ERA can attest. In his five starts he’s allowed only eight earned runs and has pitched deep into each game. Even in his shortest outing he was able to pitch into the sixth inning. It’s rather surprising the amount of success he’s had given a limited arsenal of pitches: He has only a fastball, curve, and change up, with his velocity maxing out in the upper 80′s. Like Walters, he pitches to contact, so the Indians will need to be ready to swing.