Series Preview: Twins at Indians 5/3-5/5

 

Minnesota Twins (12-12) at Cleveland Indians (12-13) 
Series 10, Games 26, 27 and 28
Progressive Field, Cleveland: 1.140, Extreme hitters park.
 
Series Overview
The Twins visit the Indians for the first time this season and both teams have close to identical records at this point. However, most experts are projecting the Indians to win 84 games while having the Twins winning 74. This is no surprise when you look at the make-up of both rosters. Over the entire 2012 offseason, it was the feeling around Minnesota that the Twins were willing to concede the 2013 season in order to build a competitive team in 2014.Those were confirmed with the Denard Span and Ben Revere trades this past offseason, and now it's time for the organization to take a look at the young players, which they have done so far this season.The Twins teams that dominated the American League Central during the 2000's began with a 69-93 season in 2000 that saw several young players get an opportunity to play in the major leagues. 2013 is a time to find out who is a part of the long-term solution for the Twins. If those players can't seize the opportunity, a loaded farm system will have some prospects get their chance. We'll see several in this series.
 
Friday , May 3 7:05 EDT (STO)
Justin Masterson (4-2, 3.12 ERA)  vs. Pedro Hernandez (L) (1-0, 2.35 ERA)
 
When the Twins sent oft-injured Francisco Liriano to the Chicago White Sox last season at the trade deadline, they recieved a pair of prospects in return, infielder Eduardo Escobar and left-hander Pedro Hernandez. That marks the second time in the last year that Hernandez had been dealt, arriving in Chicago when Carlos Quentin went to the Padres during that off-season. Hernandez lacks a standout pitch but he will show average velocity from the left side, topping out at 92 mph when he reaches back for more. He pounds the strike zone but has yet to consistently keep the ball down, leaving him prone to home runs. Although this season, his HR/FB rate is 10.5% which is significantly better than his career total (including the minors) of 17.2%.  Most scouts  like his change-up as an average pitch while his slider is below-average and lacks the break to miss bats at the upper levels. At best, Hernandez profiles as a back of the rotation piece and more likely as a long reliever. This will only be his fourth Major League start.
 
As for Masterson, the current Twins roster has looked clueless against him in the past. The entire team is only hitting .236/.326/.382 against him.
 
Saturday, May 4 1:05 EDT (STO)
Ubaldo Jimenez  (1-2 7.13 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (3-1, 2.23 ERA)
 
Correia has given the Twins exactly what they expected from him at the beginning of the season thus far in the 2013 campaign: quality starts. He has completed seven innings in each of his five starts, all of them quality starts. Even though Correia will supply very few strikeouts, considering his below league average 3.72 K/9IP this season, he seems ready to induce numerous groundballs, 13 of which resulted in Ranger outs Sunday, in his last outing. This should be an interesting start for Correia as he went 5.2 innings in his sole career appearance against the Indians.
Other than a double by Mike Moustakas, Jimenez was not challenged by the Royals at all. Jimenez has been tough to read this year with three awful starts and a pair of dominant ones. Let's hope this start is a dominate one.
 
Sunday, May 5 1:05 EDT (STO)
Zach McAllister (2-3, 3.30 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (2-3, 7.66 ERA)
 
Pelfrey suffered another loss Monday against the Tigers as he pitched 5.1 innings and allowed four runs, seven hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout. Pelfrey has allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last four starts and has a 7.66 ERA and 1.93 WHIP for the season as a result. He'll need to show a lot of improvement if he's going to be counted on as a reliable starter in Major League Baseball. We are only about a year removed from Pelfrey's Tommy John surgery he underwent on May 1 of last year. Pelfrey was 1-4 in his final 12 games (11 starts) with the Mets in 2011  and pitched to no decision in three April starts for the Mets in 2012 before he was diagnosed with torn ligaments in his right elbow.  He throws a sinking 91-93 MPH fastball, which he can dial it up to 93 MPH even after the surgery (averaged 90 mph last year, lowest of his career partly because of the injuries).  He lead the Mets in starts and innings in 2009 and 2010, pitching over 200 innings for the 2nd time in his career in 2010. A lot of scouts point to the increased work load as a probable cause for his injury. He added a split-finger to act as a change-up in 2010, which he has almost completely gotten rid of since the surgery. He is known as a ground-ball pitcher, but only slightly. He's had less BB/9 than league average the past 4 years (3.02BB/9 in 2011). The Twins took a low risk approach to building their rotation this season, and Pelfrey is a good example.

Prediction: Indians win series.
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