The Indians have had their ups and downs this season with games they looked unbeatable and others where they looked no-hittable. With that being said, anything is better than being the Padres. San Diego’s finest are 2-5 to start the season with just seven extra base hits in as many games. To make things even worse, they’ve hit just one home run since Seth Smith hit two on the first two days of the season.
Helping the Tribe is the fact they won’t have to face the Padres top pitcher, Andrew Cashner. While even he isn’t quite Cy Young material, he has pitched two nice starts for the Padres with 11 strike outs in 12 innings. This certainly looks like third of four easy series to start the year for the Tribe, but they can’t take anything for granted. It almost seems like when a Big 10 team takes on a DI-AA team to start the year, like when Michigan started the season against Appalachian State a few years back. Maybe that’s a bad example, because it is the result that rarely happens, but it also brings up an important point. While it may be the Twins, Padres and White Sox to start the season, but these teams are all filled with professional baseball players and any team could win on any day.
Game 1: Monday, April 7th, 7:05 PM EDT
Robbie Erlin, LHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA (0.2 IP) vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 0-1, 13.50 ERA
Erlin will be making his first start in his second professional season after throwing in relief earlier in the week. He was barely used this Spring (1.46 ERA in 12.1 IP) and will have five days off since his last appearance when he makes this start, so he will likely be amped up. Last season, Erlin didn’t do anything particularly impressive as he finished with a 4.12 ERA in nine starts. Like most of the Padres pitching staff, he has never faced the Tribe, who haven’t played against San Diego since 2008.
While the Indians staff as a whole was disappointing the first time through the rotation, Kluber had to be the most disappointing. He was named the number two starter mostly because of his tendency to throw strikes and not let things out of control, but he did neither of those things against Oakland last week.
Game 2: Tuesday, April 8th, 7:05 PM EDT
Tyson Ross, RHP, 0-1, 5.40 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 0-0, 6.75 ERA
The Indians do have some experience against Ross, who is a former member of the A’s from 2012. In his three appearances (two starts) against Cleveland, Ross was excellent, posting a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings, but this isn’t the same weak offense from 2012. Most likely the Tribe will use the same left hander heavy line-up they used against the Twins and in fact, this could be the only start in the series for players like David Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall, who are part of platoons.
McAllister will get a second go at a easy opponent as he attempts to prove that he deserves the increased responsibilities he has been given in 2014. The sinker-baller pitched just four innings in his first start and retired more batters with fly balls than ground outs. Like all the young Indians starters, McAllister had issues leaving the ball up in the strike zone, resulting in worse things than pop-up as well. If he doesn’t start to get things down, it won’t matter who the opponent is, he will continue getting shelled.
Game 3: Wednesday, April 9th, 12:05 PM EDT
Eric Stults, LHP, 0-1, 11.25 ERA vs Danny Salazar, RHP, 0-0, 3.18 ERA
Stults is a journeyman pitcher who started in Los Angeles and has worked his way back to the West Coast now at the age of 34. Stults has been solid in recent years, but had some bad luck against the Marlins in his first start of 2014. In four innings, he allowed five runs on seven hits including a home run. He has struggled in his career against right handers, so expect the Indians to load things up on that side, likely including Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn.
The Indians future ace struggled early in his first start but turned things around quickly. He gave up two runs early, but finished strong, striking out four in 5.2 innings. He obviously still has his swing and miss stuff and no one is jealous of the line-up that has to face him followed by Cody Allen and Blake Wood. Because of his late start this Spring, Salazar was limited to just 85 pitches in his first game, but he should be ready to go the distance in game two. Look for more innings, more strike outs and about the same amount of runs the next time around.Nick Swisher found his stoke against the Twins,
much to the annoyance of the Twins.
Up Next: After their first bout of interleague play, the Indians will head to the Windy City and the White Sox for four.