The Indians must be exuberant that they were able to get out of Boston with a split, moving them back to .500 on the season (34-34) after losing four straight to the Royals and Red Sox. The Tribe has had problems with every facet of the team at some point this season and now, the main fault seems to be in the unpredictable feat of clutch hitting. The Indians haven’t had a hit with a runner in scoring position in two games to end the series in Boston (0-20), although they won both games. On a positive note, the Indians bullpen has been much more consistent of late, a necessity as no Indians starter has pitched through the sixth since Josh Tomlin threw eight innings on June 7th.
With a payroll and superstars as big as the Angels have, they expect to win the West every year, but haven’t been able to accomplish their goals. They have been playing much better of late however, winning six of eight against the Astros, White Sox and Athletics. Much of this recent success has been due to their trio of sluggers all being in the line-up at the same time with Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton 28 runs combined already in June.
Game 1: Monday, June 16th, 7:05 PM EDT (tickets)
Jered Weaver, RHP, 7-5, 3.51 ERA vs Trevor Bauer, RHP, 1-3, 4.24 ERA
The Indians may be lucking out a bit in facing the Angels best pitcher as Weaver has been pitching worse in recent weeks than he has in a very long time. In his past four games he has allowed 14 runs and holds a 5.71 ERA in June. While these last three starts did come against two great offensive teams, Chicago and Oakland, the Indians aren’t far behind, coming in fifth in the Majors in runs scored.
Bauer took a loss against Kansas City last time out, giving up three in 5.1 with no run support. Keeping things positive, Bauer has kept under control, walking just one in that start and four total in his past three. Unlike House and Danny Salazar, it looks like this could be a permanent stay in the rotation for Bauer as he still has his great “stuff” and has fixed his control problems. His attitude also seems better as he is less prone to giving up a big inning just because of one mistake.
Game 2: Tuesday, June 17th, 7:05 PM EDT (tickets)
Matt Shoemaker, RHP, 3-1, 4.19 ERA vs Josh Tomlin, RHP, 4-3, 3.33 ERA
Shoemaker didn’t join the Angels’ rotation until May, so he missed the Indians the first time around, but will make his debut against Cleveland in the upcoming series. He has still bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, but as a starter, has not allowed more than three runs in a game all season. His best start came last month when he held Tampa Bay to two hits and one run, but he was also effective against the Royals and White Sox, two teams that have been surprisingly good offensively.
It’s Puppypalooza as Indians fans can bring their dogs to the park to see the Indians’ most dog friendly pitcher Josh Tomlin. Tomlin is an avid hunter during the off-season and has a few that can be seen if you follow him on twitter (@jtomlin43). Tomlin has also been hunting opposing pitchers, striking out 38 to just seven walks. Like previous seasons, he has been fantastic throwing strikes, but his fastball has a little more zip than in previous seasons and his locations within the strike zone have been better. After not making the season out of camp, Tomlin continues to be an incredibly pleasant addition for the Tribe.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 18th, 7:05 PM EDT (tickets)
C.J. Wilson, RHP, 7-6, 3.50 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 3-4, 5.89 ERA
The last time these two teams faced off, the Angels took a series sweep in Anaheim and it was Wilson who clinched it with a very impressive outing. Since then, things haven’t gone so well for Wilson. He allowed eight runs in his next two starts against Toronto and New York and more recently has posted a 5.63 ERA through three games in June. In his career, Wilson has owned the Tribe with a 2.37 ERA and a K/9 of more than nine, but it is possible that an Indians offense that is heating up and a Wilson who has been struggling can combine to turn things around.
Masterson had put together 2.5 decent starts in a row before his last outing, but a very lackluster effort lead to five runs allowed in a very short, two inning start against Boston. Masterson seemed off all game as if he was hurt, but got a clean report after the game. The Angels are at least as good offensively as Boston and the Indians’ ace will have to up his game if he wants better results against the likes of Trout and Pujols.
Game 2: Thursday, June 19th, 12:05 PM EDT (tickets)
Garrett Richard, RHP, 6-2, 2.87 ERA vs Zach McAllister (unofficial), RHP, 3-4, 5.89 ERA
Unlike the other three LA starters, Richard is on fire coming into this series. Although this is his fourth season with the Angels, this is the first year he has shown his talent at this level. In June, he has allowed just a single run across three starts and 21 innings against the Astros, A’s and Braves. This did come after his worst stretch of the year, allowing 13 runs in 14.2 innings across three starts, but that has been the rarity and less than two runs in at least seven innings, the norm.
The Indians haven’t officially announced a starter for this game, but it will likely be McAllister, who is to come off the DL after throwing his last rehab start in AAA Saturday. He is expected to replace T.J. House in the rotation, despite House’s success to this point. McAllister had inconsistency problems prior to being placed on the DL, allowing a WHIP of 1.52 and five home runs in his first ten games. He seems to have gotten back to his old self in AAA, striking out eight and allowing just eight hits in ten innings.
Who’s Hot? - Who’s Not?
So far this year, this section could be called “Who’s Smooth?” as Michael Brantley has been the Indians hottest hitter all season. He has continued that this past week, with two home runs and three doubles as part of a seven game hitting streak. When the rest of the offense cooled down to almost nothing against Boston, Brantley turned it up with two hits in each game.
Although it is unknown whether he will even be on the roster for this series, T.J House was bad enough in his previous two starts to deserve a note. In 8.2 innings, he allowed eight earned runs to the Rangers and Red Sox. The appearance in Boston was better than in Texas, but the two combined should be enough to make sure it is McAllister who starts the finale and not House.
On Deck: After these four with the Angels, the Indians hope to fight for the Central Division lead when they play three with Detroit.