TBA (0-0, ?.?? ERA, ?.?? SIERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen 5-2, 3.69 ERA, 3.92 SIERA Josh Tomlin pitched in the Balk-Off, so this could be any number of people. Maybe Carlos Carrasco is run out there? It can’t be TJ House, can it? They just sent him down, though they didn’t anticipate the marathon. Perhaps starter by committee, if the Indians want to feed the home run beast of Chris Davis. My money is on Carrasco, this is the kind of thing you keep a fireman around for.
In a rotation without a true ace, Wei-Yin Chen is a pretty good pitcher. He relies on contact more than power and surely loves his defense. He gets a decent ground ball rate and seems like he just induces pretty weak contact more than anything. He intrigues me, turning 29 this year this should be the best we see of him. If the Orioles make the playoffs part of it will be because of Wei-Yin Chen. He throws a fastball and sinker in the low to mid 90’s , a solid splitter in the 80’s along with a slow curve and a slider. Michael Brantley is 2-for-2 off Chen.
Justin Masterson is not having a good year. For a guy with a contract in the balance, he’d like to be dominating at least as well as he did last season. His walks are up, 4.3/9 compared to 3.5 a year ago, his strikeouts have dropped too, down to 8.1/9 against 9.1 last season. His velocity hasn’t been what it was last year and he’s just looked a bit tentative. It’s not good. But there’s some good in there, or at least a glimmer of hope that it’s not all bad. He’s been forcing ground balls at a 61.1% clip this season, and while some of those might be hard shots up the middle (they probably are) some are just routine-esque grounders that aren’t being made into outs. Justin has to deal with a tough defense behind him, I know it’ll get better because we’ve seen what he’s capable of. It was ugly on Sunday though, that can’t be denied. Against Baltimore’s homer-happy middle of hte order, if he can keep it down he should be alright. Hopefully the oncoming storm of Chris Davis will be waylaid. Both he and Cruz have homered off Masterson.
Norris is one of many solid, unspectacular pitchers that gets it done. He’s more reliant on the grounder than Chen even is, 43% GB rate this year. If they got an ace, they’d be a great staff, wow. He looked like one for a bit against the Royals his last outing, 7.1 innings of one run ball even as he took the loss. That takes composure to gut that out. He’s a journeyman that could make a name for himself, like Chen turning 29 this year and showing us his all. Four-seamer and sinker in the mid-90’s, slider and change up. If anything else the Indians are going to be used to seeing the same thing every night out. I guess that’s why God invented arm slots. No homers off Norris, Brantley is 2-for-3 though. This dude is about to be red hot.
Corey Kluber (4-3, 3.43 ERA, 2.85 SIERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-5. 4.50 ERA, 4.00 SIERA
Kluber was a beast against the Tigers, limiting that powerful offense to three runs while the Tribe smacked Drew Smyly around. He’s a cold blooded assassin, that’s all there is to it, pounding the zone with cutters, four-seamers and two-seamers, then snapping in that silly little slider, so effective in his repertoire. I might be lionizing him a bit, but it’s cool to see a guy really follow up a breakout season. He was a stone statue in his interview Tuesday night, showered with water, baby powder and seeds. I can’t tell if the guy breathes sometimes. Nelson Cruz has homered off Kluber, Delmon Young is 4-for-9. There you go, Mr. Weaver.
I gotta say, it’d be nice to have Ubaldo around. Sort of. He’s still doing Ubaldo things, trading strikeouts and shutouts for bombs and bases on balls each time out, but he’s still a rollercoaster of a watch. I’d rather have Kazmir, but what are you going to do. He’s striking out less people in Baltimore, only 8.3/9 down from 9.3 last year. The walks have held about the same, the hits up to 9.3/9 from 8 a year ago. And he’s steadily not lasting past the sixth inning. We’ve seen this before, but we also know that other beast could come out and start mowing Indians batters down. When he’s locating his splitter or whatever that thing is, it’s over.
Is this it? It could be it, it feels like it. The Indians might actually be getting that superstar young pitcher that other teams get to have. Maybe. Or Bauer could just be pretty good, even that would be dope. He killed it against the Tigers on Tuesday, six innings with two earned runs, he struck out four in a row at one point, he worked the whole zone for the most part. A few curve balls floated where they shouldn’t but that happens, he’ll iron it out. There’s nothing more for him to do in the minors, let’s see him dominate. His fastball is major league ready, that cutter or slider or whatever it is made Miguel Cabrera look silly, he can do it. If you can limit the Tigers, you can limit the Orioles.
Gonzalez rounds out the bottom of the Orioles rotation, basically averaging a quality start with a 4.53 ERA this year, right in line with his career FIP but 0.8 runs higher than his career earned run average. Is he settling into what he should be now that he’s turning 30 two days after this game? And will a looming milestone embolden him or fill him with doubt? Talk about undertones for this game. Gonzalez is a Baltimore farm product and does his job pretty well, 8.3K/9 with 3BB/9. He’s a bit homer-prone though, eight already in 45 innings. He leans on the fastball/sinker combo in the low 90’s with a slider and curve mixed in. Again, he’s turning 30, that’s gotta weigh on him. That’s the key to this game.