Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.57 ERA/4.59 SIERA) vs. John Danks (2-8, 4.81/3.92)
Zach McAllister had a rough go of things in his first start back from the disabled list. The Mariners roughed him up as he attempted to shake the rust off. He managed to work his way through five innings, but one bad inning was his downfall. Look for McAllister to bounce back and get better with each and every subsequent start. He has a proven track record of being consistently consistent and there is no reason to expect him not to get back to where he was prior to his injury. Despite the rust there were encouraging signs in his first start, like the movement on his curve ball.
John Danks is having a rough go of it in 2013. At one point in time, Danks was one of the most solid starters in baseball and a regular contributor to the White Sox year in and year out. However, injuries have really derailed his career and since they have started piling up he just hasn’t been the same pitcher as in years past. With all of that said, this is probably the time in which he will channel is best stuff and dominate the Indians for a solid seven innings. That’s just how these things tend to go when you’re a fan of the Cleveland Indians.
Scott Kazmir (6-4, 3.96/3.87) vs. Jake Peavy (8-4, 4.28/3.47)
Don’t look now, but Scott Kazmir is on a roll. He’s allowed only eight earned runs over his past seven starts. During that time he has found a way to lower his ERA from well over 5, to a season low 3.96. He has been incredible and proof that with hard work comes results. Kazmir has fought hard to get back to where he is now and since the end of June has more closely resembled the old version of himself. He’s been so good, in fact, that many fans are beginning to wonder whether or not the Tribe should consider trying to resign him for 2014. It’s an interesting debate, but one that should be saved for after the season.
Meanwhile, Jake Peavy continues to add to what has already been an impressively strong resume. At 8-4 he leads the White Sox in victories and has reimagined himself as a veteran pitcher who can rely more on his experience and ability to think through situations rather than his God given ability to throw upper 90’s heat. So while this might not be the same Jake Peavy who won the Cy Young award back during his time with the Padres, he is still a top level pitcher capable of making life a living hell for opposing offenses.
Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.74/3.17) vs. Jose Quintana (5-3, 3.55/4.05)
I owe Corey Kluber an apology. Never in a million years did I think he was capable of doing the things he is doing for the Indians. Shows how much I know. All Kluber has done this year is transform himself from an emergency spot starter to a legitimate option in the starting rotation. He’s been great and outside of Justin Masterson, Kluber may very well be the Tribe’s most reliable pitcher. I don’t even know how to explain what we are seeing. I am completely shocked. Baseball is weird sometimes. Look for him too keep the positive momentum going against a team that seems to really enjoy swinging and missing at baseballs.
As for the White Sox, they will counter with Jose Quintana. Quintana is a young pitcher still looking to find his way at the big league level. He has struggled at times, but it is beginning to look as if he has finally found his stride. He has been great over his past few starts and provides Chicago with a legitimate starting option to pair with Chris Sale should they decide to have a fire sale and part ways with Jake Peavy. He’s also left-handed, so there’s that.
Justin Masterson (12-7, 3.42/3.28) vs. Chris Sale (6-10, 2.69/2.88)
Finally, Thursday we will see the rematch we have all been waiting for. Justin Masterson and Chris Sale will take the hill against one another for the first time since they squared off on June 29th. On that day, Masterson was phenomenal. He through a complete game, six hit shut out. All he has done since then is continue that string of dominance and pitched the way an ace should be pitching. Again, Masterson should have a field day with the White Sox. He is one of the top strike out pitchers in all of baseball and the White Sox just love swinging through baseballs.
As for Chris Sale, he has been a hard luck loser for much of the season. He has been his same old self, but he has been on the wrong side of things when it comes to run support. Chances are he will hold the Indians to only a few runs and it will be up to Masterson to minimize the damage on his end. For the Indians offense, it will be all about taking advantage of any opportunity Sale gives them because chances are they will be few and far between.