Series Preview: Red Sox at Indians 4/16-18

Boston Red Sox (8-4) at Cleveland Indians (5-6)

Series 5, Games 12, 13 and 14
Progressive Field (2012): 0.899*, Pitchers park. 

Series Overview
The Red Sox make their only trip to Cleveland for 2013. It should be a fun series, as the Red Sox seemed to have re-tooled after last season. A new manager and a revamped bullpen can do wonders for any organization…

Closer Joel Hanrahan is day to day because of a sore right hamstring that may be contributing to throwing off his mechanics on the hill, according to new manager John Farrell. Expect Andrew Bailey to receive the call to save out a game or two. It has been 11 days since rookie phenom Jackie Bradley Jr. had his last hit, a second-inning single in the Rogers Centre off Blue Jays pitcher Josh Johnson. Entering Tuesday’s game, Bradley has gone hitless in 20 at-bats since then, his average falling to .097 (3 for 31).  According to ESPN Stats and Info, only four American League players (25 plate appearances or more) have a lower average.

The weather looks okay for the series. I do not expect any rain-outs.

Tuesday, April 16 7:05 EDT (STO)
Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1, 6.97 ERA)  vs. Felix Doubront (L) (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

According to scouts and videos I have watched via youtube, Doubront has a deceptive over-hand delivery. He has a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball in the 91-93 mph range. The pitch runs in on left-handed batters therefore breaks a lot of bats. His change-up is above-average with a chance to be a good major league pitch. He throws is in the low-80s and gets good downward action. He also flashes a high-70s curve. This pitch still needs work but could become average.

Wednesday, April 17, 7:05EDT (STO)
Justin Masterson (3-0, 0.41 ERA) vs. Alfredo Aceves (0-0, 6.75 ERA)

Aceves, in the rotation for an injured John Lackey (biceps), pitched effectively enough in his last start to earn a win. It was Aceves' first start since June of 2011 and it was a solid outing for him. Lackey will miss at least a couple of starts, so Aceves will continue to occupy his spot in the rotation. Aceves is an interesting guy, as addressed here.

Masterson should be the AL Pitcher of the Month, as his 0.41 ERA is very impressive. A bad matchup for Masterson will be Will Middlebrooks, as the Boston third baseman is very good at hitting sinkers.

Thursday, April 18, 7:05EDT (STO)
Zach McAllister (1-1, 2.19 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (L) (2-0, 1.42 ERA)

Thus far in 2013, Lester, much like the Indians, has already outdueled and beaten some former Cy Young Award winners: CC Sabathia, R.A. Dickey, and David Price who he beat last Saturday in a duel at Fenway Park, which Red Sox fans were treated to a 2-1 Red Sox win in 10 innings. The southpaw lowered his ERA to 1.42, which is more than seven runs lower than it was after three starts in that 2010 run when Lester himself finished fourth in the CY Young award race. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Lester has thrown his cutter 31 percent of the time this season, his highest rate in the last five seasons. Hitters are slugging .250 off Lester's cutter, the lowest since the aforementioned 2010 season.

Nick Swisher is hitting .326/.429/.587 with two homeruns and six doubles in 46 at-bats against Lester.