Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers

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Pitching Matchups

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Before he came over to the American League, Ryan Dempster was leading the NL in ERA and having a great season for a terrible, terrible Chicago Cubs team. Texas has been friendly to his win-loss record (3-1 in Texas compared to 5-5 in Chi-Town) but not much else. He’s posting an 83 ERA+ and is barely averaging six innings a start for the Rangers. This is not the top-end starter they hoped they’d gotten, though he’s been pretty good his last two starts (14 innings with three earned runs). Growing pains or whatever, dealing with that pesky designated hitter has to be a change after a career in the NL.

I don’t really want to talk about Ubaldo Jimenez anymore. Not to sound like a whiner, but the guy is just irritating to watch on the mound. Why aren’t you good, guy? Your raw ability is stunning, just strike them out! He’s that guy who when everyone got cupcakes for a birthday party in grade school, ate it in little nibbles, while everyone else scarfed theirs then looked on longingly. I hated that kid, he had everything I wanted. Now Ubaldo is being asked to face the team with the best on-base percentage in the AL who can also make any park look tiny. Yeah, they’re not quite as powerful on the road as at home (.749 OPS away compared to .821 at home), but we’ve also seen Ubaldo make the Mariners look like a competent offensive team. Guess we’ll just spin the wheel and see what we get.

A couple years ago when Feldman was a regular starter for the Rangers, I thought he had a shot to be really good. The Rangers have this mass of pitching prospects coming up through their system, and this guy being relegated to long man out of the ‘pen is impressive and a little sad. He gives up 9.6 hits per nine in his career but walks about three, he’s a good pitcher that won’t dazzle you. He’s actually walking fewer battesr this year (2.2) but giving up more hits (10.6) so Mike Maddux’s preaching of aggressiveness is getting to him it seems. Plus the Indians’ one strength, taking walks, is being mitigated while their weakness, hitting, is his problem. This could go either way, depending on how comfortable Feldman is in Cleveland. If only the river were still on fire, nobody’s comfortable around that.

In his last start, our boy Fausto Roberto sprained his ankle pitching. Is this a fitness level thing, an error in his motion, or something more sinister like voodoo? It’s a mystery. He’s got a 52 ERA+ this year though, and even if it’s over 14 ⅓ innings, that’s kinda dreadful. We need to see more of him, but in my experience, and by whatever name, this guy plus great line up equals a 10-run deficit for the Indians. This according to math. If you can get to the game, sit in the bleachers.

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Derek Holland is the conundrum of the Rangers clubhouse. He’s had his stunning starts like in the World Series last year, and he’s had his clunkers like earlier this month against the Royals, six runs over six innings. He’s probably more in the middle somewhere and he’s better than his numbers suggest (though maybe not a lot better, a 4.04 SIERA raises more questions than answers) but what do you know, he’s left handed. With how the Indians have been swinging the bat lately plus Holland’s ability to lock it in, this could be no-hitter territory. Luckily I just jinxed it, so you’re welcome.

McAllister has tailed off a little bit the last start or two, giving up five runs to Oakland in less than five innings his last time out and getting knocked around when the Tribe was in Oakland a little while back, but he’s got something going for him. WTAM’s Nick Camino noted Zach hit 95 mph on the speed gun his last time out—he wasn’t doing that last year. Is this the emergence of the hero Cleveland needs? He definitely has a test ahead of him here against the Rangers. Maybe it’s just the color green that gets to him, that’s why the A’s battered him so. If we can’t have Masterson out there, this is the guy I’d want in case a sweep is on the line either way.

Like I said before, this is a World Series contender coming to town. The Athletics might be on a hot streak and enjoying a stunning season, but this is the team that has the best chance in the AL to get to the Fall Classic. Nobody likes to think of their team as one that good teams “take care of business” against, but that’s the truth right now. All I can hope for is the Tribe to get ahead of the Royals, because I made a foolish bet early in the season. But hey, it’s baseball, let’s spoil someone else’s dreams.

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