Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Minnesota Twins

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Pitching Match-ups:

There were a couple of years in Mike Pelfrey’s career where he could have rated as Not Bad. Not anymore, he’s a fringe starter that can’t strike many people out and gives up hits by the dozen per nine innings, or just about. He’s completely stopped throwing his slider this year, and he’s been battling a tweaked back at the same time. Like a lot of the pitchers on the Twins, the Tribe should tee right off on him. Watch how he uses his cutter, he gets the most whiffs on that pitch this year. If I know that, I’d hope the Indians do.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

In his last five starts Scott Kazmir has a 2.32 ERA over 31 innings with his shortest outing being five-plus innings against the Royals that saw him give up three runs. The velocity seems to be back to stay and you can tell he isn’t as hesitant as he was early on in the season. At risk of jinxing it, the guy is back in full form, or near enough. Plus he should do well in Minny, it’s a pitcher’s park and the Twins strike out the fifth most of any team. He’s rested, confident and he’s just about secured that rotation spot since we discussed his being bullpenned a few podcasts ago. So you can thank Wahoo’s on First for that.

Correia is another pitcher like any other the Twins pop out.  The 32-year old finds himself on his fourth team and is really just there to eat innings. Like Pelfrey a day earlier he doesn’t strike many out and he gives up a lot of hits without walking people. Someone should tell these guys to stay out of the middle of the plate. It’s not healthy or conducive to winning. He leans on his cutter, over 30% of his pitches are this high-80’s offering, while  getting the most swing-and-misses from his curve. Pretty conventionally middling pitcher really. He’s right at league average in ERA+ at 99, so he’s not terrible, just a guy who’s there to take pressure off the bullpen.

To paraphrase the Notorious B.I.G., Corey Kluber is the illest. A couple blips on the map are hurting his ERA, but he’s been the second best starter on the team, with apologies to Mr. McAllister. Since June he’s got a 3.48 ERA over 51.2 innings with 48 K’s and if he could knock down the home runs he’s giving up a bit he could be just great. Against the Twins, it’s gravy baby.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago Scott Diamond was a revelation, the hope for the future for Twins fans. This year either he’s crashed back to earth or batters have adjusted to him because he’s pretty dreadful. His walk rate jumped from 4.3% to 6.1% and he’s giving up 3% more home runs per fly ball. The little things can take you down quick. He’s also lost a mile per hour on an already not great fastball, now at 88.3 mph. Perhaps last year was a ruse after all.

The greatest All-Star Jamaica has ever produced shall steamroll the Twins. Of this I am sure. He’s been the horse the Indians need him to be and this rest has to have been good for him. He continues to lead baseball in starts and shutouts and I feel like another could come on Sunday. He hasn’t faced this terrible version of the Twins yet, and they should be in for a treat. The kind of treat you don’t enjoy I mean. Some kind of strychnine lollipop.

Final Thought

I fully expect a series win- the team rolled into the break and the pitching is looking great. If the bullpen can get its head out of its ass, this is a team to be reckoned with. Drawing the Twins on the first series is a bit of a godsend because it allows a chance to ease back in a bit. Not that the Twins aren’t good, any more than the Charlotte Bobcats are THAT bad – they could still beat a pretty good team if that team isn’t trying. But it’s the beginning of the charge for October. Set it off right.

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