To be the best, you have to beat the best. This means that the Indians are officially the best team in the American League coming out of a series win against the Texas Rangers. The Tribe have won three series in a row against the Rangers, White Sox and Angels and go into the next series with the White Sox looking to maintain their division lead (1.5 games over Detroit).
This will be the third time already this season that these two teams have gotten together, so there is already a lot of familiarity. There will be a couple new faces this time around however as each team will add a new starting pitcher to the roster for the double header. In other White Sox news, the front office decided they no longer like winning, so they have pushed Chris Sale back into the bullpen, effective for game one of this series. He had some minor elbow issues and rather than wait it out, give him more time off between starts or put him on a pitch count that they would limit him to one inning a game.
May 7th, 1:05 EST: Philip Humber, RHP, 1-1. 4.62 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 3-1, 2.83 ERA (AAA stats)
Phil Humber went six innings against the Tribe last week and allowed three runs in a game the Indians eventually won. It was literally his last start so everyone should remember it fairly well still. You read what I wrote about him the last time if you care so much about Humby.
Everyone should remember Zach McAllister as the star rookie from 2011 who filled in time-after-time as pitchers hit the DL. He has been solid so far this year at AAA Columbus going 35 innings and only allowing 11 runs. Even more impressive for him are the 32 strike outs. His numbers shouldn’t carry all that much weight, however, as he is basically a Major League player playing in AAA, much like the rest of the Clippers team. McAllister will likely be the first pitcher to get called up anytime a situation like this happens again this year.
May 7th, 7:05 EST: Eric Stults, LHP, 1-1, 2.20 ERA (AAA stats) vs Josh Tomlin, RHP, 1-2, 5.27 ERA
Game two of the double header (making up for the postponed game on 4/10) will feature the White Sox throwing out a new starting pitcher. Stults played some for the Rockies in 2011 and came to the White Sox via free agency. He has thrown 28.1 innings for AAA Charlotte, striking out 26 and only allowing 7 runs. It will be his first game against the Indians.
Tomlin will be making his 6th start of the season and it comes after his second best outing so far this year. Against the White Sox he was able to go 6 innings and only allow three runs (he and Humber had almost identical performances in the same game). Tomlin needs to continue to work on increasing his innings this time out. He isn’t throwing too many pitches (he is averaging less than 90 pitches per game), but is placing himself into situations that Manny Acta doesn’t believe he can get out of. Even though Josh has only walked 5 batters all season, he has allowed 31 hits that have completely negated the positives earned by his control. He is on the right path though and with the defense playing at a whole new level during the last season, he should find some success in this game.
May 8th, 7:05 EST: John Danks, LHP, 2-4, 6.51 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 1-2, 5.20 ERA
Again? Really? Danks got his first win of the season pitching against Justin Masterson during the first White Sox/Indians series and Masterson got his first win during the second matchup. This game will feature the third time each team’s ace will face the other. Round three, begin.
May 9th, 7:05 EST: Jake Peavy, RHP, 3-1, 1.99 ERA vs Jeanmar Gomez, RHP, 2-1, 2.84 ERA
Finally some new blood. The Indians have yet to face the former NL Cy Young Award winner in 2012 and the righty seems to be having a bit of a rennasaince. After a few off seasons with Chicago, Peavy has managed to keep his ERA under 4.50 for the first six starts of the season. He had an ERA below 3.00 in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 so everyone knows what he is capable of. If he does mount a superb comeback year, it may give hope to the Indians own Ubaldo Jimenez for 2014.
Jeanmar Gomez is something special and he showed it last time out, going 7 innings against the best offense in the American League and winning. He maintains an ERA below 3.00 and a WHIP below 1.00 for the time being as he shows what Josh Tomlin could be doing if he had a little better luck.