Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Philadelphia Phillies

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Pitching Matchups

Jonathan Pettibone (2-0, 3.63 ERA, 4.38 SIERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-1, 4.87 ERA, 3.06 SIERA)

Pettibone is a rookie, and this will be his fifth start in the Majors. He’s done alright so far, owning a 110 ERA+ but he’s given up 25 hits and seven walks in 22.1 innings. That works out to less than six innings per start too, so a depleted Phils bullpen has been getting consistent work when Pettibone takes the mound. In six years and 87 starts in the minors he earned a 3.44 ERA and a 1.226 WHIP, but right now he’s sadly a better option than Roy Halladay was, before the Doc took to the operating room. Pettibone sits in the low 90’s with his four-seamer and his cutter and two-seamer sit around there too. He also throws a change-up and a slider. In short, he’s hittable and we’ll see if the Tribe breaks out after amassing one run in two games on Monday.

Nothing has made me happier than the resurgence of  Scott Kazmir in an Indians uniform. His last time out he struck out 10 A’s over six innings with no earned runs, and has dazzled for two starts before that, too. The last time he faced the Phils was the 2008 World Series, the rain-postponed Game Five that ended the Series. Maybe he has vengeance in his heart. Scott has been found money for the Tribe though, hitting 96 last time out and looking like he used to. Maybe we should start getting worked up over this. We’ll let you know.

 

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels (1-5, 4.18 ERA, 4.31 SIERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 5.55 ERA, 3.96 SIERA)

We go from their worst and most unheralded pitcher to Cole Hamels, the homegrown ace who was supposed to be one of the Three Kings that would lead the Phils to championships. Nothing went as expected, but Hamels has been great the last couple years. This year, not so much. He’s made eight starts covering 50.1 innings and he’s walking a career high per nine (3.8, more than a walk more than his previous high) and striking out a career low, 7.5 per nine innings. He also leads the league in losses. His velocities are all consistent with his career. and his BABIP is 50 points below his career average. His SIERA tells us he’s been a bit worse than the results show really, but every other peripheral from swing percentages to hit trajectories are consistent with his usually dominant self. He’s just walking too many guys. Whether the Indians, who love to take a stroll, take advantage of that will be the key to the game.

The Phils get to face the two Tribe pitchers facing a resurgence in this series, hopefully they play along. In his last three starts spanning 18.2 innings, Ubaldo has been great with 20 K’s, six walks and 10 hits. He’s been very comforting to watch, not losing composure and his stuff is there. Now, I’ve noticed he’s been getting some generous zones, or at least appears to, so whether that’s A) true and B) going to continue, that’s the key to his success. The Phillies aren’t a dominant offensive team and Jimenez has handled the Tigers already this year, so maybe the confidence is back. I’m still not comfortable watching him though.

Final Thought

Major League Baseball obviously screwed up, meaning to make it a four-game series and scrambling to jam this one into the master schedule late. But whatever, it’s a nice little interlude. The Indians aren’t facing the Cy Young winners, but we’ve seen what unknowns can do to this team all too many times. Getting to Pettibone early will be needed, and using Hamels’ walks to their advantage will be a necessity. The way the ball flies at Citizens Bank Park, I’m looking at blowouts.

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Cole Hamels Jonathan Pettibone Philadelphia Phillies Scott Kazmir Ubaldo Jimenez

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