Series Preview: Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros

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Pitching Matchups:

Let’s not beat around the bush on this one. Brett Myers has been absolutely terrible in 2013. I myself am somewhat surprised by this. While I knew the version of Myers we has seen thus far was a possibility, I felt like he would be a serviceable starter and possibly even surprise a few people by being more effective than anyone thought. Wow, was I wrong. Myers’ biggest issues have been location and the long ball. For whatever reason, he just can’t seem to keep the ball down in the zone. As a result, hitters are teeing off on him. It might be injury and it might just be a need for a slight mechanical adjustment. Bottom line, until the problem is figured out, watching Brett Myers pitch could be a painful experience for a while.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Astros, their game one starter looks as if he’s having a bad year, but most of it is the result of some insanely bad luck. In two of Harrell’s first three starts he has only allowed one earned run. It was one poor start against the A’s in which he gave up eight runs in only 4.1 innings of work that inflated his numbers. He also hasn’t received any run support. Harrell is predominantly a ground ball pitcher and when he is forcing hitter to roll over on his pitches and beat the ball into the ground he is crazy effective. Much like Myers, when he is up in the zone and allowing more fly balls, that is when Harrell has struggled.

Finally, Scott Kazmir will make his long-awaited debut for the Indians. There is a lot riding on this start for both Kazmir and the Indians. He was brought in on a whim to be the team’s fifth starter and after a spring which can only be described as better than anyone could possibly have imagined, it’s time to see if Kazmir is back to being his old self. He was originally set to debut in Tampa, but a strained oblique derailed that plan. After a short trip the DL and impressive rehab start, Kazmir appears ready to reclaim his big league career. Here’s hoping he has something left in the tank because based on the performance of the rest of the staff, the Indians need his arm in a huge way.

Meanwhile, Philip Humber is off to a pretty decent start for the Astros even though his record does not necessarily support this. While he is 0-3, he is sporting an ERA under 3.00. In 18.2 innings of work, he has allowed only 6 earned runs. Unfortunately, the Astros have done little to nothing to help him out, scoring just 1 run total in his three starts. So don’t sleep on Humber. If he throws the way he has so far this season, it could be a long day for the Indians.

Oh, Ubaldo… Where do I even begin? What can I possibly say that I haven’t already said in prior previews? I honestly have no idea, so here goes nothin’. Ubaldo has been a disaster. With the exception of one semi-decent start in Toronto to begin the season, he has been a complete and total mess. His walk rate of 7.5 BB/9 is just absurd. His 11.25 ERA is even more ridiculous. His last start, a seven-run shellacking at the hands of the Red Sox in which he didn’t make it out of the second inning was yet another chapter in his timeline of terror with the Indians. How much patience could possibly be left with the front office and how much longer will Francona continue to hand him the ball every fifth day?

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The Astros’ game three starter will be veteran lefty Erik Bedard. Ever since his phenomenal two-year run with the Orioles back in 2006 and 2007, he hasn’t been the same. Injuries have played a major role in this. It seems as if every time Bedard is beginning to make some head way on the mound another injury derails him. Now with the Astros, he is looking for once last shot to regain his lost form. So far, not so good. In his first two appearances, one start and once in relief, Bedard was decent. He allowed zero runs over the course of 7.1 innings of work and even earned a three inning save. However, He lasted only a third of an inning in his last start while giving up six runs on two hits and four walks. Hopefully the Indians will find a way to jump on him early as well.

Player to Watch: Astros

  • Jose Altuve: As previously mentioned, Altuve is the Astros best player and the one most worth watching. Look for him to get on base all weekend long and be at the center of the majority of the Astros’ rallies. He can also flash some pretty fancy leather out in the field. He is an underappreciated player so enjoy this rare opportunity to watch him play.

Player to Watch: Indians

  • Nick Swisher: It seems like Swisher is finally starting to hit. Over the past few games he’s started to hit the ball with more authority. The pressure of being the man appears to have subsided, at least for now and Swisher is allowing the game to come to him. There’s also the fact that watching Swisher play is just enjoyable. You can tell he enjoys doing what he’s doing. It’s refreshing from a fan perspective.
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