Series Preview: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals

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Pitching Matchups

What a first start back that was for Mr. Kazmir, huh? Three and a third innings, five walks, four strikeouts and six runs scored. Wow. But he walked off the mound in one piece, showed flashes of his former self and that’s all. Expectations being as nonexistent as they are for Scott, there’s not much to say, so let’s just write 2,000 words about him. Seriously though, five innings is all I’m looking for. He was on a 90-pitch limit last game so you have to figure that’s been nudged up a bit.

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He’ll face off against Ervin Santana, he of the no-hitter with a handful of walks. It was an odd one, you almost want to disqualify him from the list, but Santana did toss a no-no against the Indains in 2011. So good for him. He was moved to the Royals from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County Just North of Interstate Five Where We Capitalize Everything for cash and Brian Sisk. Now he’s probably their third-best pitcher and if he can avoid the home run ball after giving up 39 a year ago he could be pretty good. He’s pitched deep into games for the Royals and seems to settle down after the first inning, where he’s allowed a combined four runs in three starts. He’s a solid pitcher with a decent repertoire, and I’m a little confused why the Indians couldn’t get him. Is GMDM really that much of a wheeler-dealer?

Not again. Please, Ubaldo, if you’re reading this, and I’m sure you are because the way you’ve been pitching it looks like my ramblings are the sum total of your scouting reports, please stop killing us all. Another start, another shelling his last time out, giving up four runs on four hits. It doesn’t sound bad, but it was the Houston Astros. If Dylan Axelrod can quiet the Indians, Ubaldo should, by the transitive property, have some level of domination over the Astros. But he didn’t, he got battered a bit and made us all sad. In four career starts against the Royals, at least two of those starts against worse versions of this team, he’s got a 4.43 ERA in 22.1 innings. He’s struck out a decent 20 batters in those starts, but answered that with 10 walks. My masterful insight: he needs to walk fewer batters. That’s all I got.

Yet another former Indian who has developed into a solid player after leaving Cleveland. I suppose I’m being a bit generous and kind of dramatic with the “woe is Cleveland,” but Guthrie has been a pitcher I’ve always hoped would pan out. He’s a career 103 ERA+ pitcher, right around league average, and the Tribe could use that right now. Having been on some terrible Baltimore Orioles teams Guthrie has led the league in losses twice with 17 each, but it’s not like a 5.04 or 4.33 ERA is doing your team a ton of favors. He’s given up six homers in 25.2 innings this year and at 5.5 K/9 for his career he’s a control/contact guy. Facing a swing hard in case you hit it type of team like the Indians, it’s an interesting matchup. I expect a high scoring affair, this is one of those games we lean on the offense.

Look everybody, it’s our ace! Masterson has been a beast this year, and even with a less-than-perfect outing in Chicago his last time out with three walks and five strikeouts in seven innings, he controlled the game and gave the team a chance to win. Whether it will hold is the question, but thus far he’s been brilliant against some great lineups and I expect it to continue in KC. Kauffman has not been friendly to Masterson though, in 30.1 innings over five starts and seven appearances total he’s got a 4.15 ERA with a 2.2 K/BB ratio. He’s turned into a very good pitcher though, this is one of those cases where I think past performance is not a determination of future results. He’s going to have a great game and again the Indians will have the chance to win. It’s all I ask of any of these pitchers and Justin is the only one to deliver.

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So apparently Luis Mendoza has 43 starts in the Majors over six-plus years. Color me surprised, I hadn’t heard of the guy till last year. Of course, 2012 was the first since 2008 where he really started and set a career high with 25 of them last year. He wasn’t great, only 104 strikeouts in 166.1 innings with 78 earned runs, good for a 98 ERA+. Yet another about-league=average pitcher the Royals have stocked themselves with. He faced a less punchy Indians lineup five times (four starts) last year over 26 innings and compiled a 4.50 ERA with 10 strikeouts and nine walks. He’s wild, 11 hit by pitches last year and 22 for his career, so perhaps the Indians need to wait him out, let him groove one, and drop it in the fountain and wish for something, maybe three Justin Mastersons. WIth this matchup, the Indians have a real shot at the win.

Wade Davis is another in the typical string of unsurprising and underwhelming pitchers the Royals trot out most days. I’m sure it’s not for lack of trying but the Royals, whether through the draft or by trade in Davis’ case from Tampa are just allergic to good pitchers. Davis was having a pretty good start to his seasons with 13 shutout innings out the gate, but an eight-hit, seven-run (four earned) blasting from the Tigers brought him back to Earth. Over 18.2 innings Davis has struck out 15 Indians and holds a 2.89 ERA. Those were some dreadful Indians teams though. He’s alright though, low-to-mid 90’s on a four- and two-seamer with a nice off-speed repertoire, but he walks a bit more than is nice and strikes out less than seven per nine. Part of the Myers fleecing, the Indians should batter him as they did his former teammate David Price.

It’s early this year, but with injuries, suspensions and an odd start to the season our friend TBA rears his mysterious head. Who is this masked man this time? Almost definitely Corey Kluber. The generic-faced righty got rained out in his last scheduled start, so using him would give Masterson a break and keep Kluber in the flow. He went five, struck out five and gave up five hits, a balance I think is tenable along with his 229 ERA+. Really though, let’s not get too excited, Corey is alright but he’s young and neither needs the pressure of or deserves our expectations. I think he’ll do alright this game though. Why don’t we get to have Chris Sale?

Final Thought

I’m legitimately excited to see this Royals team. Though they’re a division rival so I have to hate them, they have the best-colored uniforms in the game if you ask me and an exciting lineup. I liked those 90’s Indians, and even a shadow of that would be cool. The Indians avoid their ace and get to face a motley cast of hurlers, so a series win isn’t out of the discussion. Plus, a sweep gets them to .500. Let’s shoot for that.

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