Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals

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Pitching Match-ups:

Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 15.26 ERA/5.97 SIERA) vs. James Shields (2-6, 2.79/3.52)

Game one give Indians fans another opportunity to stew over the Cliff Lee trade. Well, that’s if Carrasco continues with the hijinks we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him on the mound. Typically, this involves a lack of control, followed by a loss of focus, which then leads to some sort of psychological implosion that may or may not end with Carrasco trying to decapitate someone. He has a million dollar arm, there is no denying that, but so far his two-cent head has gotten in the way. Here’s hoping that a match-up against a lineup that has lacked any sort of pop this season can help build some confidence and get Carrasco back on track.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Royals, they will send their ace to the mound. James Shields was their big offseason acquisition in a much maligned trade that also sent them Wade Davis. Two common mistakes are cited for why the trade was a poor decision. First off, the Royals traded with the Rays. By this point, opposing GMs should know that if the Rays want to trade you someone or trade for someone… it’s a trap. They’re just too smart and too good at swindling people. The second problem was they traded away their top prospect, Wil Myers. Wouldn’t he look good manning right field in place of Jeff Francoeur? As for Shields, he has pitched well, as the numbers indicate, but he has fallen victim to the Royals offense time after time. Needless to say, not much has been done to change the popular opinion that the trade to acquire him was misguided.

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.79/4.09) vs. Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.74/3.50)

Ubaldo takes the mound on Tuesday following a decent outing last week in Texas. In that game, Jimenez allowed only one run on four hits, but he only lasted through five innings of work. Even still, it was another positive step in the process of restoring Jimenez’s confidence and rebuilding him into a solid starting pitcher. Also, his last time out against the Royals, all the way back on April 29th, Jimenez threw seven shutout innings while striking out four. Hopefully his track record of success combined with his new approach can result in yet another quality start.

Meanwhile, Ervin Santana comes to Cleveland looking to continue his recent dominance over the Indians in their home ball park. FOr those of you who may not remember, mainly because you chose to repress the memory, Santana no hit the Indians when he was a member of the Angels back in 2011. Since then, Santana has found a way to be successful against the Indians. This is notable mainly because Santana had struggled in recent years against just about everyone else in baseball. This year he has manage to turn things around, as his 5-5 record and 2.74 ERA can attest. It should be interesting to see how he handles this new incarnation of the Indians lineup and whether or not they can solve the riddle that has been Ervin Santana.

Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.52/3.57) vs. Luis Mendoza (2-3, 4.08/4.71)

In the final game of the series, the Indians will send their ace, Justin Masterson, to the mound. Masterson is coming off of two solid outings against the Tigers and the Nationals. In both starts, he was able to last seven innings. Unfortunately, he took a loss and a no decision in both of those starts. Even still, both starts were a positive sign for Masterson after he had struggled in the few starts prior. Look for him to pound the zone and force the Royals hitters to either beat the ball into the ground or swing and miss… a lot. That appears to be Masterson’s m.o. of late. If he does that, then the Indians will be in a position to win this game.

The Royals will counter with Luis Mendoza. To be brutally honest here for a moment, there is nothing spectacular about Luis Mendoza.  He has pitched well of late like most of the Royals starter, but he is more than capable of imploding on the mound in grand fashion. However, over the past three seasons, Mendoza has posted a 3-0 record against the Tribe while also posting an ERA of 4.50. The Indians definitely know how to score runs off of Mendoza. Can they continue that trend, but this time put Mendoza in the loss column? Here’s hoping. Otherwise, Wednesday could be a long day.

Player to Watch: Royals

Alex Gordon: If Gordon played in any other market besides Kansas City he would be a star. He is an elite level hitter as well as a gold glove caliber left fielder. After being branded the next George Brett earlier in his career, he finally learned to handle expectations and has finally assumed his place as the Royals best all around player. He deserves more recognition and hopefully he gets it this year with an all-star appearance. If the Royals are successful over the next three days it will be because Gordon is getting on base and driving the ball into the gaps with regularity.

Player to Watch: Indians

Nick Swisher: As I detailed last week, Swisher has been struggling at the plate. However, after this weekend’s performance against the Nationals, it looks like Swisher might be starting to break out of his slump. Keep an eye on him this week. If he is able to parlay his success against the Nationals into success against the Royals then the Indians should be able to score some runs.

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