Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Miami Marlins

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Pitching Match-Ups:

Ubaldo Jimenez (8-5, 4.17 ERA/4.39 SIERA) vs. Jose Fernandez (7-5, 2.71/3.41)

Ubaldo Jimenez is very quietly having himself a solid 2013 season. He isn’t pitching like his former self, but it’s close. He is locating his pitches, commanding the zone, and consistently working his way through at least five innings. In recent starts he has even been able to stretch himself even further into games. It’s continues to show just how important coaching can be. Terry Francona and Mickey Calloway worked very hard to rebuild Ubaldo’s confidence and finally they are seeing the results of the process. As is the case for Jimenez, avoiding the big inning will be the main concern. If he can keep his pitch count down, avoid issuing so many walks, and force weak content there is no reason not to expect the Indians to be in this one.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the Marlins will send Jose Fernandez to the mound. He has been spectacular in 2013 and it is even more impressive when you consider he was called up from A-ball to start the season. There’s no double or triple-A on this kid’s resume. Just a few starts of rookie and class-A ball and then it was straight to the majors. It would be easy to ridicule Jeffery Loria for such a blatant cost cutting major, but so far the results have been better than probably anyone could have asked for. Fernandez was an All-Star and is in prime position to make the team for years to come.

Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.48/4.64) vs. Jacob Turner (3-3, 2.65/4.45)

Zach McAllister pitched well in his second start since coming off the DL following the All-Star game. His control was spot on and his pitches looked crisp and lively. Anyone who had concerns about the state of his sprained finger can officially breathe easy. It looks like Z-Mac is going to be just fine. Expect more of what we have come to expect from McAllister over the past couple of seasons. In other words, look for him to be consistently consistent. He also has the added benefit of facing a Marlins lineup that doesn’t have much thump in it after Stanton and Morrison.

The Marlins will trot out Jacob Turner to take the mound opposite McAllister on Saturday. Turner was a former first round pick, ninth overall in 2009, of the Detroit Tigers and was acquired by the Marlins in the trade of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante last year. He has pitched well in his second season with the Marlins, but his 3.31 FIP suggests that he is pitching slightly worse than his 2.65 ERA would indicate. Even still, that’s not awful. Turner has been a solid pitcher and a decent piece to acquire from the Tigers for two player who weren’t in the tem’s long-term plans.

Scott Kazmir (6-4, 4.11/3.87) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (2-1, 3.47/4.96)

Scott Kazmir is on an impressive streak as of late. Ever since Mid-June, he has looked like a totally different pitcher. With the exception of his most recent start, Kazmir is pitching deep into games, allowing three or fewer runs the majority of the time, and has rediscovered some of the strikeout swagger he had lost. He has been a revelation and a real feel good story for the 2013 Cleveland Indians. Look for him to rebound from his most recent start and get back to pitching like the old Scott Kazmir. Pay attention to his arm slot and the movement of is pitches. If he finds the proper arm angle, his pitches are sharp with quick movement. If not, they have a tendency to flatten out and get hit hard.

Thanks to “The Franchise” I know that Eovaldi was the centerpiece of the Dodgers-Marlins trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Eovaldi has struggled with injuries this season and has fallen into many of the pitfalls typically seen from young pitchers. He walks too many batters and he isn’t striking out enough. It’s as if he hasn’t figured out how to make his stuff translate to the big league level. For the Marlins, the hope has to be that Eovaldi figures it out sooner rather than later. With the way Hanley Ramirez is playing at this current moment, this trade could become lopsided in a hurry.

Final Thought:

The Indians need to keep up their current pace if they want to either catch the Tigers or secure one of the wild card spots. That means focusing on what they can control and not worrying about what the Tigers, Orioles, Red Sox, or Rays are doing on a nightly basis. If they take care of their business and just keep winning games, then things will figure themselves out. For the next three days, their business will be the Miami Marlins. If they don’t stay focused and allow the Marlins to keep these games close, things could get ugly in a hurry. The Marlins are playing solid baseball right now despite the names on the roster and the number of fans in the seats.

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