The Tribe managed a split in a short two game series against Arizona and, while it could easily have been a sweep if things had went a little differently in the opener, they must be happy to have ended their most recent four game losing streak. This team has shown moments of brilliance, but has just as often looked like they couldn’t get a hit or an out when it mattered. As far as the current road trip goes, the Diamondbacks were the warm up match as they now go on to face the Mariners, an extremely hot team in baseball’s best division and then the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw. If the Indians can continue their trend against Arizona and go .500 the rest of the road trip, they would have to be ecstatic.
The Mariners are playing their best baseball in over a decade, but have the misfortune of playing in the extremely strong AL West. In all of baseball, just twelve teams have at least 40 wins already and three of those are in the West. The Athletics are currently leading all of baseball at 47-30 leaving the M’s 5.5 games back when they would be winning the Central or second in the East. While Robinson Cano has not been quite worth $24M, he has been solid all season and Kyle Seager has been a pleasant surprise offensively as well. The Mariners starting rotation is also something to be contended with and the Indians will face the brunt of it, taking on three of Seattle’s best four pitchers.
Game 1: Friday, June 27th, 10:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Trevor Bauer, RHP, 2-3, 4.40 ERA vs Chris Young, RHP, 6-4, 3.23 ERA
Bauer gave up four runs in his last appearance against Detroit, but was still strong, striking out five and walking just two through 6.1 innings. He has pitched into the sixth in every game, but once this year, making him one of the Indians most dependable starters right now. Even though the Indians carry a massive nine man bullpen, they have already worn out their bullpen on this West Coast trip and they will need as many deep starts as can be given.
The Indians don’t match up well in any game against the Mariners this time around and that is largely because Chris Young, who most baseball fans know as the Padres starter who never lived up to expectations, is having his best start to a season since 2007. Young’s rate stats aren’t incredibly impressive with a K/BB rate of 43/34 with 12 home runs allowed already in 86.1 innings.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 28th, 10:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Josh Tomlin, RHP, 4-5, 4.39 ERA vs Roenis Elias, LHP, 7-5, 3.74 ERA
Tomlin has struggled in his past three starts, allowing 13 runs in 15 innings to the Red Sox, Angels and Tigers. With McAllister stuck in AAA for a few more days and the Indians using a four man rotation, Tomlin getting back to normal is an absolute necessity for the Indians success. He may have some advantage this time around as he hasn’t pitched against the M’s in a very long time, so most of the lineup hasn’t seen him before. That has possibly been the problem of late as he has always struggled against the Sox and Tigers.
Elias is in his rookie season and has already been very impressive, posting a complete game shut out against the Tigers to begin the month. Although the Yankees knocked him around a few games ago, he has shut down the Padres and Royals over his past two starts, keeping them to two runs in 13.2 innings, striking out 11 and walking just two.
Game 2: Sunday, June 29th, 4:10 PM EDT (tickets)
Justin Masterson, RHP, 4-5, 5.03 ERA vs Felix Hernandez, RHP, 9-2, 2.24 ERA
The Indians had an off day before and after the Diamondbacks series so they will be able to continue on with the four man rotation for the present. With that, Masterson will be scheduled to throw this game, rather than Danny Salazar or Zach McAllister despite going just four innings against Arizona last time out. He was saved a loss then by a poor showing of the D-Backs bullpen, but won’t be so lucky this time as he goes against one of the premier starters in all of baseball.
King Felix has been rewarding the Mariners for their generosity this season (unlike Justin Verlander with the Tigers) and is finally getting the run production to back him up. After going just 52-45 with an ERA under 3.00 in his past four seasons, he has been racking up the wins this year. As if he needed to get any better, Hernandez is having his best strike out season (128 in 120.1 innings) and is keeping runners off base (0.95) than ever before. The Indians have beaten Hernandez before, but he looks to be better than ever playing against the toughest Western division he has seen in his career.
On Deck: After just three games back in the AL, the Indians will head back to the land of pitchers batting as they take on the Dodgers for three in LA.