Series Preview: Indians vs. Rockies

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Probable Pitchers

Juan Nicasio (5-2, 3.61 ERA, 4.39 SIERA) vs. Corey Kluber (5-3, 3.10 ERA, 2.78 SIERA)

There’s a decided dearth of strikeout pitchers on the Rockies, Nicasio is one of them. He’s a solid pitcher on paper – decent ERA, throws in the low to mid-90’s, his two-seamer is getting destroyed this year though. Hitters post a 1.825 on that pitch this year probably because in that thin air lessens the break. He’s only thrown 41 of them though, so that sample size is important. He’s not pitching any better away than at home though – his ERA is actually .03 runs higher on the road. Maybe he’s just decent, nothing special, that would be a step up from the garbage they usually run through there. And saints be praised, he’s a righty. He doesn’t throw many change ups, again likely a no break fear. Considering who’s pitching opposite him, I’m hoping for a streak break.

The article on Fangraphs last week about Corey Kluber being a Major League ace was nice to read, but also belated. For Tribe fans, it’s nice to finally see some praise for the Kulbot, he’s unstoppable when he’s on, and he’s been on all year. Just imagine what his numbers would be like with a real defense. He leads all pitchers in strikeouts, and if he could just find a way to avoid hard contact, he’d be a Cy Young candidate. He is anyway, but that’s mostly process of elimination by Tommy John. The only player to have seen Kluber on the Rockies is Morneau, who is 5-for-12 with a dinger.

Franklin Morales (3-4, 5.65 ERA,  4.57 SIERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (1-2, 3.86 ERA, 3.29 SIERA)

Morales has trouble missing bats, simple as that. It’s led to that inflated ERA, that poor record, and some bad peripherals. He gives up a lot of homers too, and rarely lasts through the fifth inning. He’s pretty much a carbon copy of every other Rockies pitcher ever. His velocity is also down from years past, 91.1 mph on the fastball from 92.6 last year and everything else has experienced a similar drop. Sounds bad, huh? He’s left-handed. It’s going to be a long game for the Indians, I can already feel it. Or else he’ll be the guy to break the curse of the lefty on the Tribe and the offense will erupt to dominate the rest of the year. We’ll see.

While recording the podcast this past week, the obvious struck me quite suddenly that Trevor Bauer is officially a member of the Indians rotation. It took injuries and implosions for it to happen but it’s awesome. Trevor’s stuff is good as ever, 96 or 97 on the gun with a neat slurve that makes great hitters confused, and the only things I don’t like are his propensity to let his pitches float up in the zone and what a  big deal announcers make about his warmup routine. Because everyone has to be exactly the same, right? He’s given up four homers already, all solo shots and they’re all because he lives too much in the upper portion of the zone, but he’ll iron that out eventually. Could be dangerous against this team though. It’s his first real go around in the majors, it takes some time to get used to it. He’s never seen the Rockies before, though Drew Stubbs is 0-for-1 against him.

Jhoulys Chacin (0-4, 5.20 ERA,  4.86 SIERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (3-2, 3.04 ERA, 3.48 SIERA)

It’s my favorite name in baseball, and for a little while there Chacin looked like a future actual ace for the Rockies. At least, looked like he could become one. Maybe he got Coors’d, maybe the league figured him out, but right now he’s not good. His strikeout rates have dropped every year while hits have climbed and he’s slowly slipped lower in the depth chart. He’s morphed into a pseudo-garbage pitcher, a dangerous occupation in the rarified air, rarely breaking 90 on the fastball and packing a repertoire of like eight mediocre pitches. Like the other guys on the staff he doesn’t last long, usually finding trouble in the fifth inning.

Tomlin did Tomlin things against the White Sox last time out, pounding the zone, not allowing free passes but then tossing a meatball to Dayan Viciedo. More than anything he suffered from a bad defense that allowed men on before the dinger, and it’s likely to bite him again because he’s not about to strike many people out with his stuff and the Tribe defense is garbage. Errors will tell the tale of this game. He’s faced Cuddyer and Morneau in the past, both hit pretty well. He’s just got to limit damage while the offense tee’s off on Chacin. Like Kipnis’ two homers, for instance.

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