The Indians-Mariners series was filled with great pitching and they look to see a lot more of the same against Los Angeles. With the series loss and the 2-3 road trip so far, the Indians are back in third place and 6.5 games behind first place Detroit. While the Indians have faced some fantastic pitching of late, it has been made to look even better as the bottom of the Indians lineup, namely Nick Swisher, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn, have been useless at the plate. Unless Cleveland adds another hitter to replace on the above, preferably Swisher, whether it be from the inside (Jesus Aguilar) or out, it is hard to see the Indians having a better than average offense.
The Dodgers may be in second place in their division, but that is just because they have the misfortune of being in the same group as the San Francisco Giants. With 46 wins, Los Angeles is the third best team in the National League (behind Milwaukee as well as San Fran) and is behind only Oakland in the American League. The Dodgers starting pitching staff has been the biggest part of their success with the worst of the five holding an ERA of under 4.00 and the best three all with ERAs below 2.80. Luckily for the Indians, they will only have to face one of these and it won’t be Clayton Kershaw, who just threw a no hitter that should have been perfect against the Rockies. Also of luck for the Tribe is that the Dodgers bullpen is not in perfect order despite their massive acquisition of closers in the off-season. Cleveland fans will be happy to know that Chris Perez has an ERA above 5.00 and Brian Wilson isn’t impressing any with his new contract either.
Game 1: Monday, June 30th, 10:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Corey Kluber, RHP, 7-5, 3.09 ERA vs Dan Haren, RHP, 7-4, 3.83 ERA
Kluber had a great game last time out against another NL West team and the former home of his opponent, Haren. Pitch count held Kluber back from going for the complete game shut out against Arizona, but he still made it seven innings and struck out eight. After a rough start to June, he has thrown seven innings in each of his last two innings against some tough opponents (Detroit and Paul Goldschmidt) and looks to be back on track. He will have one more chance to add to his numbers, including his poor 27 strike outs after 60 in May.
Like the rest of the Dodgers, Haren has been fantastic this year, at least through the first half of May. Since then, he has allowed four or more earned runs three times after none during his first eight starts. Most of this has changed due to the long ball. Ryu as allowed a home run in nine consecutive starts after just two allowed in his first seven starts. The Dodgers are a great team overall and this game will be the Indians best chance to grab a win as their best starter will face the worst LA starter at the present moment.
Game 2: Tuesday, July 1st, 10:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Justin Masterson, RHP, 4-5, 5.03 ERA vs Josh Beckett, RHP, 5-4, 2.11 ERA
Masterson missed his last start with some knee soreness, but it obviously wasn’t too serious as he is scheduled to start just a few days later. He has thrown an average of three innings in two of his last three games, but hasn’t blamed these failures on his knee. His two innings against Boston on the 13th were particularly unimpressive, but he was almost as bad against the Diamondbacks last time out. If he can’t pitch at least five innings against the Dodgers, the Indians may as well throw in the towel early as they go against one of the best pitchers in the NL.
Before entering this game, Indians hitters should be thankful that it is Beckett and not Kershaw as they are bad enough against left handers they don’t need to face the best one in baseball. Beckett, on the other hand, is a pitcher many of them have faced before and beaten. In fact, he has allowed a 5.65 ERA against the Tribe and Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera both have had a great games against him. Of course, he appears to be a different pitcher now, allowing no runs in three of his last four games, pitching through the seventh in his past three.
Game 3: Sunday, July 2nd, 3:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Trevor Bauer, RHP, 2-4, 4.39 ERA vs Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, 9-4, 3.12 ERA
Bauer has really impressed in his last three starts, not necessarily with his numbers, but with his toughness, the very thing the Diamondbacks traded him because he didn’t have. He has thrown an average of 110 pitches in those starts even though he hasn’t made it through the seventh yet this year. In addition, he continues to flip his strike out and walk numbers (52/20 K/BB) from last year, when he walked 16 to 11 K’s.
Ryu is in his second season with the Dodgers and has been amazingly consistent. He has made eight starts in May and Jun and thrown at least six innings in at least match. Ryu was one of the Dodgers to throw against the D-Backs in Australia and started a stretch where he allowed zero runs in four of his first five games. As the Indians have only played the Dodgers six times ever, Ryu and most of the current team has never faced the Indians so both sides will be seeing something new this entire series.
Who’s Hot – Who’s Not
Yan Gomes has had a below average June, but the past week he has tried to make up for it by catching on fire offensively. Against the Diamondbacks, he knocked in four runs on four hits, including a home run, then he hit another solo shot against the Mariners, Saturday.
Nick Swisher did single and score in the opener against Seattle, but other wise has gone 0/9 in the past week. He was used as a pinch hitter twice against Arizona, seeing four pitches in total for a strike out and fly out. While he has walked a few times, there is no room on a professional baseball team for a $14M player who can’t field or hit.
On Deck: The Indians have another off-day on Thursday before returning home from their toughest road trip all season. They will then play ten straight home games, ending at the All-Star break.