Mr. McAllister returns to Cleveland after Jeanmar Gomez‘ latest bad outing cost him his spot in the rotation. McAllister seems to be the go-to guy for spot starts, though now he may stick around a while. In his 25 innings in the bigs this season he’s allowed 11 earned runs, 14 overall while striking out a shade under eight batters per game. Like Gomez and Josh Tomlin, he needs location to be good and to mix his pitches, because he is not overpowering anyone. It seems like he does well his first time back to the Indians, so here’s hoping, because they need to break this losing streak.
Chen was removed from his last start in the fifth with a cracked fingernail, but other than a manicure problem he’s been pretty good this year. He’s left handed, so the Indians can’t expect a lot of success. He’s recorded a 4.22 SIERA and is a dead-even 1.00 FB/GB pitcher, so he’s not exactly an ace. Chen doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He just gets people out and relies on his defense to back him up.
The Indians need another start out of Lowe like he had in Houston, when he threw 6.2 frames of three run ball. He hasn’t won a game all June and has just not looked good for a while now. This is an important series, and he hasn’t had a ton of success in his career against the O’s. Hardy is hitting .455 off him, and Mark Reynolds is at .333 in 24 at-bats. Lowe’s sinker needs to sink and he needs to defy Father Time like he did in April, because the Indians need to win this series.
Jake Arrieta is not having a good year. He leads baseball in earned runs with 59, though in fairness to him he has to face some pretty stiff competition night in and night out. He’s supposed to be one of the Orioles’ better pitchers but has a 73 ERA+ coming into this series. He gives up a ton of hits (9.5 per nine) and is prone to the long ball (12 homers already). He doesn’t walk too many, but maybe part of that is his leaving the ball over the plate—you’re not going to take many pitches when you’re being fed cookies. It’s his third year and he’s got to show what he really is.
- Game Three: Josh Tomlin vs. TBA (Tommy Hunter?)
The Indians have this officially listed as TBA, but according to the depth chart and what we’ve seen, you can bet on seeing Josh Tomlin. After a great start against the Reds (6 ⅔, one earned run and six hits) in which he made his cutter dance, Tomlin was blasted by the Yankees his last time out. What can you say? He’s a guy with a middling fastball who had no command and was up against the best home run-hitting team in the majors—it was bound to be a bad time. Three homers (including one to Dewayne Wise of all people) along with an uncharacteristic two walks. Tomin just didn’t have it. The Orioles are not the Yankees, but there’s still pop in that lineup and if it is indeed him starting he’ll need to find those corners of the zone.
The Orioles also have it listed as TBA, but considering their ace Jason Hammel pitched more recently than Hunter (who relieved a struggling Brian Matusz) then this is probably the case. Like several of Baltimore’s starters, he’s struggling, with a 71 ERA+, 10.6 hits per nine, and an average of just over six innings per start. It’s the same old song and dance for the Orioles. Of course, the Indians have a knack of making bad pitchers look like Sandy Koufax sometimes, so we just won’t say anything bad here and jinx it. But hey, at least he’s right handed.
- Game Four: Justin Masterson vs. Brian Matusz
Again, it’s listed as TBA, but the rotation breaks out this way, and it just makes sense to send your ace out there on Sunday. Outside of one bad inning, Masterson was great against the Yankees his last time out. He gave up three in the second on three hits and a walk but scattered only four more hits over six innings. Since the Royals smashed him for seven runs on May 29th, Justin has pitched 29 innings and given up only six runs. Looks like our ace is back. He’s never liked pitching in Camden Yards, with hitters logging an .897 OPS giving him an 8.14 ERA against him there, but some of that is Red Sox-related and the O’s don’t like the Sox. He knows the stakes and knows his role, so let’s hope for some Masterson-ing. That, combined with the Orioles penchant for swinging a lot, it spells a good day for the big Jamaican.
Brian Matusz, it appears, is not going to be the ace the Orioles hoped for. As has happened in the past, he came up to much excitement and has fizzled. Maybe, somehow, Baltimore is a pressure-packed place to play. Either way, a 74 ERA+ and 11.2 hits per nine ain’t pretty. Like Chen, he’s left-handed and soft-tossing, relying on control and movement to strike out more than his fair share. The Indians just need a couple runs to give Justin a win. One way to spin this: maybe facing some mediocre left-handed pitching will give Indians pitchers a boost and it won’t be a problem anymore, like how vaccines expose your body to weakened diseases to help you fight the real thing.
How many times have you read “the Indians need this one” or something like it in this preview? Well this time it’s really true. The Indians have gone 1-5 so far on this road trip to destroy all the momentum from sweeping the Reds at home. The White Sox are beginning to put it all together with the Youkilis trade (you know his anger will come out and he’ll start annihilating the ball) and the Tigers are laying in wait, so this is not the time to spin the wheels. Looking at the pitching matchups the Indians look to have the advantage here, but we said the same thing before the Houston series and we all saw how that turned out.
The Indians can get on a roll here and head into the All Star Break with some good momentum. But it has to start here.
Topics: Adam Jones, Asdrubal Cabrera, Baltimore Orioles, Brian Matusz, Carlos Santana, Derek Lowe, Grady Sizemore, J.j. Hardy, Jake Arrieta, Jason Kipnis, Jim Johnson, Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson, Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters, Robert Andino, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Wei-yin Chen, Zach McAllister