Series Preview: Cleveland Indians (40-38) @ Chicago White Sox (32-43)

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Pitching Match Ups

Trevor Bauer (1-2, 2.76 ERA, 6.68 SIERA) vs. Hector Santiago (3-5, 3.03 ERA, 3.95 SIERA)

Yet another tease for Indians fans. All any of us want is to see Bauer up in the rotation on a consistent basis, but maybe his minors numbers are evidence of his needing a bit more seasoning. He’s sporting a 4.13 ERA in 12 starts in Columbus with a 1.454 WHIP. He’s walking five men per nine innings with a little over nine strikeouts per nine. The nice spin would be to say he’s working on his secondary stuff, but from our perch we have no way of knowing that. He’s been really wild in his little time with the big club, and I’d assume we’ll see more of that in Chicago. Hopefully he doesn’t fall victim to those short fences.

At first blush, Santiago is one of seemingly a dozen similar pitchers the Sox have. Turns out, this guy can deal. Like Chris Sale a year ago, the Sox have pulled another seemingly good young hurler out of their bum. Some teams have all the luck, I guess. It’ll only be his ninth start this year in 19 appearances. It’s like the White Sox are trapped in the 60’s in every way, from team building to pitcher crafting. If it works, use it, i guess.

Carlos Carrasco (0=3, 7.78 ERA, 5.31 SIERA) vs. Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.83 ERA, 4.25 SIERA)

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Is Carlos Carrasco the most contentious and argument-causing pitcher in the Indians system? I’d think so, yeah. The guy could be good, he could also be dreadful and go crazy. Against the White Sox, he’s been kind of not bad, four starts holding them to a .765 OPS. Could be worse, and I think he’ll be better than that this outing. He’s going to grab hold of a rotation spot with a dominant start here, and not let go all year. Bank it.

Jose Quintana is certainly slightly above average. I really have little to say about him that I haven’t already said, and really, he doesn’t need or deserve much more copy. He takes the ball once every five days and gives you a chance to win. His lack of dominant stuff is supplemented by something, I’m sure. He’s probably going to be on the White Sox for years. Hopefully I’m not writing previews by then.

Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.58 ERA, 4.18 SIERA) vs. Dylan Axelrod (3-4. 4.57 ERA, 4.87 SIERA)

It’s funny – these two have taken different paths to get to where they are, but they’re about the same pitcher, results-wise at least. First Ubaldo. Well, we know what to expect nothing. He might roll out there and just obliterate the Sox as he did against the Rays in the beginning of June, eight innings of shutout ball. More likely, we’ll see what he’s become – get into the sixth with two or three earned runs and a small handful of K’s. As long as he doesn’t walk too many, I guess.

Axelrod meanwhile, he’s just a converted reliever thrown into the mix because Chicago didn’t have any viable starters. He’s comported himself admirably, not stressing the bullpen too much and not letting the Hose get blown away. He’s faced the Tribe once this season, back in April where he treated the Tribe like many other rookies have – six innings of one run ball with four K’s and three hits. He looked good, and it was one of his best starts. I don’t expect Cleveland to get treated like that again, but you never know.

Justin Masterson  (9-6, 3.75 ERA, 3.44 SIERA)  vs. Chris Sale (5-6, 2.75 ERA, 2.95 SIERA)

Finally , another ace vs. ace. Again, not that they face each other , but you know. Masterson was perfect for six his last time out, before it all fell apart and he ended up giving out six runs to the Orioles. He’s been that horse the Tribe hasn’t had since CC left though, leading the league in batters faced, starts and complete games (both shutouts). He’s pitched nearly 40 more innings than any other Indians starter. The guy is great. His slider has been a thing of beauty this year, finally helping him take that last step into front of the rotation stopper. He’ll need every bit, because as bad as the Sox offense is, Chris Sale won’t let the Tribe do much either.

Sale was on fire his previous start, lasting eight and striking out 13 batters. The willowy lefty was nigh unhittable, and would have earned his most hard-fought win if not for a gaffe of gaffes with a dropped pop-up in front of the mound by Connor Gillespie (with a little help from Gordon Beckham) in the ninth against the Mets. Go listen to Hawk Harrelson’s call of it. Great theatre. I thought Sale would tail off this year, but he hasn’t – he’s been as dominant as he was a year ago if not more so. Baseball fans will be in for a treat here.

Final Thought

Haven’t you gotten it? I expect a domination on 35th this weekend. The White Sox are ripe for the picking, and with the Tigers facing a tough task in Tampa, it’s a great chance for Cleveland to inch closer to first place. I said it was time to really make hay, and I meant it.

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