Series Preview: Cleveland Indians (38-36) @ Baltimore Orioles (42-34)

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Pitching Match-ups

I know we’ve all thought it before, but it popped in my head earlier that really, unless we’re talking interleague or National League ball, there’s never a match-up, not really. Nobody faces each other unless there’s a fight. So here’s a novel idea I’m going to try so this preview doesn’t drive me crazy – my sense of the game based on the match-up.

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.66 ERA, 4.22 SIERA) vs. Zach Britton (1-1,5.56 ERA, 5.72 SIERA)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s one where if it were a street fight, it would be a good match-up of big and bulky versus wiry and crafty, or something. I like how this game feels – Ubaldo has been pretty good lately and apparently Micky Callaway has been working hard on getting his fastball back to where it needs to be to make Jimenez great again. Or at least good. Britton is the young gun, one of a few arms the Orioles are counting on to build around for years to come. I’ll like watching this game, or would if the Blackhawks weren’t playing (curse of living in Chicago, sorry) because this looks like a brute force game, on the surface anyway. Ubaldo is a bit more nibbly than we can expect Britton to be, because he still doesn’t seem to trust his stuff as much as he should – the guy can be filthy at times. Britton meanwhile is just a big young guy who practices in the offseason by throwing through barns, at least that’s the vibe I get from his headshot. If the Indians can shake him early, it could be a bombing.

Justin Masterson (9-5, 3.48 ERA, 3.48 SIERA)  vs. Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.71 ERA, 4.31 SIERA)

Chris Tillman reminds me uncomfortably of Zach McAllister, at least on paper. I’m not saying that Z-Mac fled Cleveland for the Charm City (or my favorite nickname, Bodymore) but I’m just saying I haven’t seen him around. Granted, Tillman is giving up an inch and 30 pounds on McAllister, but whatever. McAllister is a big dude, wow. Anyway, if the Indians don’t win this one, well, what can you do really, but this is a good shot with the Big Hoss on the mound. Plus, his SIERA is the same as his actual ERA – he’s actually pitching as well as he’s expected. Take that, people who disagreed with me.

Scott Kazmir 4-4, 5.37 ERA, 3.83 SIERA) vs. Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.30 ERA, 4.54 SIERA)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

We will come to a time, very soon, where Scott Kazmir is in the bullpen with occasional starts. I’m sure Carlos Carrasco will be good now, and there won’t be room. Kaz has a propensity for being good for 4 and a half innings (you know what I mean) then caving in. Luckily, Jason Hammel does not strike fear into the hearts of anyone. Though his facial hair can make you uncomfortable on a level with Aaron Harang, I expect a high scoring affair because neither of these guys are typically long for the world of pitching. Having said that, and despite my irrational confidence in the Indians every day of the week, I can’t see them pulling this one out, because Hammel is going to have “one of those days” as the Tribe decides to strike out 12 times. It’ll be no fun. But still, watch the game.

Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.68 ERA, 3.10 SIERA) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (5-3, 3.75 ERA, 4.35 SIERA

This might be the closest in terms of actual talent. Kluber and Gonzalez are pretty good pitchers that are not miscast in a role that doesn’t suit them, and they do enough to give the team a chance to win. Sometimes they clunk one, sometimes they dazzle, but they never pitch really terribly. That’s the key, they’re competitors and have heart and all that other soothsayer bulljive that filled baseball for many years. I could give you the numbers, but whatever, just enjoy what will probably be the best game of the series. Although based on advanced metrics AND Fangraphs love, Kluber wins this one handily. That’s why I’m a SABR man, people.

Final Thought

Both these teams are hungry, with manager that eke out the best in all their players. I feel like within a year or two (IRRATIONAL CONFIDENCE WARNING!) we’ll see them face off in the playoffs, and it will be a series for the ages. I like the Orioles, even with their dreadful owner, so I look forward to seeing them play. Especially Chris Davis.

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