Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Pitching Matchups:

Jered Weaver (6-5, 2.90 ERA/3.96 SIERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (7-4, 3.89/3.82)

As mentioned above, this has not been the prototypical season for Jered Weaver. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of coming out and dominating an opponent over the course of seven or eight innings. He still has that in him and did it routinely throughout the month of July. The real question is what motivation does he have to do that right now. The Angels are out of any playoff picture and it would be easy to think Weaver could not necessarily mail it in, but rather, he could be less sharp. This one will be interesting.

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Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir will get a chance for vindication against the team that nearly derailed his career. After being traded to the Angels, Kazmir struggled with virtually every aspect of pitching. He had control problems, he lost confidence, he got injured, and he ruined his mechanics. It was a terrible combination for a pitcher who was at one point one of the most dominant starters in the game. That said, Kazmir appears to be back pitching close to the way he used to pitch. Don’t be surprised if it looks like there is a little more extra added motivation to perform well against a team whose colors he once wore.

C.J. Wilson (11-6, 3.49/3.84) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (8-6, 4.18/4.39)

C.J. Wilson has been probably the Angels best and most reliable pitcher throughout the season. Has he earned the massive salary he is earning? That’s hard to debate, but you can’t say he has outperformed that contract to date. The lefty with the distinct delivery still boasts one of the most devastating 12-6 curves in all of baseball and when it is working it can make opposing hitters look stupid. He also routinely goes deep into games so expect to see Wilson on the mound in the seventh and even eighth inning so long as the Indians haven’t found a way to tee off on him.

As for the Indians in Saturday, this could be very interesting. Ubaldo Jimenez will make his first start since being bypassed in favor of Danny Salazar on Wednesday. Expect Jimenez to come out fired up with a little extra motivation to show Terry Francona what a terrible decision he made in going with Salazar. However, could that also serve as a detriment. Often times, trying too hard can lead to less than desired results. Expect Francona to be all over Jimenez’s pitch count and ready to pull him at the first sign that the wheels might be preparing to fall off.

Jerome Williams (5-8, 4.77/4.63) vs. Justin Masterson (13-8, 3.46/3.28)

Admittedly, I don’t know much about Jerome Williams. The little bit I do know comes from picking him up off the waiver wire a couple time per year for spot starts in my various fantasy leagues. He’s a solid pitcher, but definitely not dominant. He isn’t going to shut out the Indians offense for eight innings. Then again, now that I said he won’t he probably will. Luckily for the Indians he is coming off of an absolutely terrible July stretch. Since July 1, Williams is 1-5 with an ERA of 9.00 and is barely making it to the fifth innings, if even. This is certainly looking like a chance for the Indians to get their offense going, especially after facing Weaver and Wilson in back to back days.

Williams will go head to head against the Indians’ ace, Justin Masterson. 2013 has proven to be a success for Masterson… as long as you don’t include the Tigers. In Tuesday’s game the Tigers once again stuck it to Masterson, scoring five runs in one inning and putting the game out of reach. It was the third straight loss this season against the Tigers. However, take away the Tigers and Masterson has been dominant as any starter in baseball. He has also been surprisingly good on Sundays this year so expect Masterson to show signs of dominance once again.

Final Thought:

The bottom line here is the Indians need to do well this weekend against the Angels. A four game sweep at the hands of the Tigers was both demoralizing and a potential season killer. Yes, there are still plenty of games left to play and anything can happen, but the Tigers series was a wasted opportunity. Can they get past it? Can they find a way to come together and put together another impressive run? Can they show the necessary intestinal fortitude to take things one game at a time and understand that there season is by no means over, no matter what the fans might say or think. If they can focus and take things one pitch, one inning, and one game at a time it’s certainly a possibility. Oh, and slowing down Mike Trout is a must.

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