Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Texas Rangers

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Pitching Matchups

Scott Kazmir  (3-3, 5.24 ERA, 3.74 SIERA) vs. Josh Lindblom (0-1, 7.71 ERA, 4.78 SIERA)

When I looked at their headshots on the Probable Pitchers page, I thought it was just the same photo twice. That generic baseball player face, I guess. I’ve neer heard of Josh Lindblom, and with good reason. This is his first stint in the AL, he’s been in the Majors for three years now and thrown 108 innings. A serviceable fill-in with Alexi Ogando on the disabled list. He walks a lot of people, 4 batters per nine, but strikes out almost a batter an inning, so maybe he’s got that effectively wild action going for him. Nolan Ryan probably loves him. He’s started one game this year, 4.2 innings of seven hit, four run  ball. The Rangers can deal with that because they can fill up the scoreboard. Having said how bad he is, Lindblom is sure to shut the Indians down.

Scotty Kazmir, a man of strikeouts, high pitch counts and early exits. Actually, his last start wasn’t terrible – six innings, four earned runs. Exactly what I expect, or thereabouts. In seven starts in Arlington over his career Kazmir has a 2.70 ERA and only given up two homers. I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of impressive. He’ll win.

Corey Kluber (3-4,  4.56 ERA, 2.84 SIERA(!))vs. Derek Holland (5-2, 2.82 ERA, 3.37 SIERA)

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

There are no two men in all of baseball with more divergent facial hair. Kluber with the clean-cut, 1950’s vibe, and Holland with the worst thing ever on his upper lip. I happen to enjoy the duality of it all. Holland is having a brilliant season, easily his best yet. For the longest time everyone expected him to become something great, and he’s finally doing it, maybe. Along with his sterling ERA, he’s striking more people out, issuing a career low in walks, and most impressively giving up way less homers. He’s become what we glimpsed two postseasons ago. Judging from his SIERA, it’s not just smoke and mirrors, either. He’s a lefty, and though this isn’t the Indians teams of years past that saw a southpaw and died, he’s so good it doesn’t matter.

Kluber has been getting some love around the blogosphere recently, Fangraphs in particular giving praise quite a few times. He deserves it – though he’s not been brilliant, he’s definitely more than I expected. This will be his first time pitching in Arlington, so he’s in for an experience. As long as he doesn’t throw that cutter he thinks is Major League ready, he should do alright though, the guy’s got the stuff to do it, not to mention the chin. He’s been a nice surprise this year. The only Ranger to face him is Pierzynski, and he’s 1-for-5 with a home run. So hopefully he can avoid that.

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 5.o3 ERA, 3.96 SIERA) vs. Nick Tepesch (3-5, 3.92 ERA, 3.76 SIERA)

NO. I am not writing anything about Ubaldo Jimenez. Call me petty, childish, whatever, I think about him too much as it is to even hand out 150 words. Deal with it. We know what to expect – nothing. Adrian Beltre hits .417 against him, David Murphy is 3-for-8 and Lance Berkman hits .313. But that was OldBaldo, Newbaldo will silence them. Right?

Nick Tepesch is another product of a continually bounteous Rangers farm system, and for a 24-year old rookie, he’s getting it done. Besides the solid ERA and SIERA, he’s not overly remarkable, but he’s a great fifth option. He was drafted in the 14th round, another example of how unpredictable the draft is in general. He’s been on and off, but if the kid can handle Texas as a rookie, he’ll be something for a while. He’s a ground ball type pitcher with a fastball in the low 90’s to complement his sinker, while his slider is his go-to for strikeouts. He intrigues me. He’s actually gotten better in the Majors at striking people out AND walking people, which is strange, and a little impressive.

Final Thought

The Indians need to get back on a winning track. The Tigers look like they’ve woken up earlier than last year, and that’s not good, especially when you roll over in a three game series. A trip to Texas is never fun, but at least it’s not July and maybe a big offensive outburst will que a torrent of runs for weeks to come. They need to grab a win or two.

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Corey Kluber Elvis Andrus Series Preview Texas Rangers Ubaldo Jimenez

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