Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox

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Pitching Matchups:

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Game one’s scheduled matchup will feature Tribe ace Justin Masterson versus the White Sox’ Jose Quintana. For Masterson, the 2013 season has been a tremendous success so far. As I’ve mentioned, he’s been dominant in his two starts and continued his impressive run that began in spring training. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds against a White Sox lineup loaded with power bats that can end his day early if his sinker isn’t sinking.

Meanwhile, Quintana had a rough go of it in his first start of the year. He allowed six runs on eight hits in only four innings of work. But as is the case this time of the year, it’s too soon to know how the rest of his season will play out. He has had decent success against the Indians in the past, sporting a 1-0 record with a 1.46 ERA and .119 batting average against. This could be a good one.

In game two, the Indians will have their hands full offensively. The White Sox will send their ace to the mound in the form of Chris Sale. Sale emerged from what had primarily been a role as a bull pen guy in 2012 to become one of the best pitchers in baseball. He continued that form in his first two starts of 2013. In 14.2 innings of work he has allowed only three runs and held opponents to a .226 batting average against. Of course, we saw what the Tribe did to David Price, so maybe there is a chance they light up Sale as well.

As for the Indians, they’ll send Zach McAllister to the mound for his second start of the season. Arguably the Indians’ best pitcher in 2012, McAllister had a rough go of it in his first start against the Rays. While only two of the four runs he surrendered were earned, it wasn’t enough to help guide the Tribe to a victory. Then again, it also didn’t help that he received zero runs support. Look for McAllister to be his typical self by pounding the zone and forcing batters into making mistakes at the plate. if he can do that while containing the heavy hitters in the Chicago lineup, McAllister could get himself in the win column for the first time this season.

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Let’s start with Peavy. In hist first two starts, he’s allowed seven earned runs and served up three long balls in the process. Against the Royals he was a dominant force. A few days later against the Nationals he was roughed up. Again, it’s way to early to know what to make of things. The sample size is just too small. However, Peavy is a pitcher with enough talent to shut down any team on any given day. Sure, he may not do it by throwing upper 90’s heat like he did with the Padres, but his ability to out think hitters more than makes up for it.

Now as for Brett Myers. The Wahoo’s on First staff has been dissecting his performance in an outrageously long email chain that has spread over the course of days. In it we’ve cited possible injury, age, mechanical issues, and quoted expert opinions and analysis. What we’ve been able to ascertain is that Myers has an injury which is causing a mechanical issue, or he just sucks. I’m not intending to sound overly mean here. I’m just being honest. Many questioned the wisdom of signing a player who hadn’t started since 2011 and hoping he would hit the 200-inning mark. So far, the results have only raised more questions. If he can’t turn things around, we may be seeing Trevor Bauer up from Columbus for good sooner rather than later.

Player to Watch: Indians

Mark Reynolds: So far Mark Reynolds’ power has been as good, if not better than advertised. When he makes contact, he crushes the ball with authority. His power from the right side of the plate is exactly what this team had been missing in seasons past. In a related story, I was in Tampa over the weekend to see the Tribe. Reynolds’ second homer on Sunday that hit off the facing of the upper deck out in left field landed seven seats to my left. It was about 100 times more impressive in person than TV made it out to be.

Player to Watch: White Sox

Paul Konerko: As was the case most of last year, when the Indians play the White Sox I’m picking Paul Konerko as the player to watch. He’s made a career out of killing the Indians on a yearly basis. I for one cannot wait until he is either traded away to a contender at the deadline or retires. Until then, continue to fear any situation in which Konerko comes to the plate with runners on base. The Indians may be in better shape just walking him intentionally from now through the rest of eternity.

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