Series Preview: Indians at Blue Jays 4/2-4

Cleveland Indians (69-94) at Toronto Blue Jays (73-89) *Records are 2012.

Series 1, Games 1, 2 & 3
Roger Centre Park Factor (2012): 1.008*, Very slight hitters park.
*Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher.
Series Overview
The Indians and Blue Jays both made significant overhauls to their roster this past off season. Looking at the win-loss records of both these teams, the changes were welcomed by the fan bases in both cities; each of whom are starved for a winning product. The trades and free agent acquisitions brought players in to win now, as both organizations view themselves as being at the peak of the win curve. The  Jays are trying to seize the opportunity to take advantage of an AL East division where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox no longer reign as kings. A fast start to the season could be a good prescription.
Tuesday, April 2, 7:07EDT (STO)
Justin Masterson  vs. R.A. Dickey
Michael Bourn has 28 at-bats against Dickey, the most of any current Indians player. In his career, he is batting 321/.355/.429 against him and most of these number came last season. However, more at-bats against knuckle ball pitchers does not necessarily increase the likelihood of future success; even the catcher has little knowledge on what the pitch will do after it leaves the hurler's hand. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Dickey threw 490 knucklers 80 mph or faster in 2012 and opponents batted .146 against them with a .407 OPS, 92 of his 230 strikeouts coming on those pitches. That helped widen Dickey's arsenal, giving him effectively an extra pitch to go along with his "soft" (sub-75 mph) knuckler and mid-80s fastball.

Wednesday, April 3, 7:07EDT (STO)
Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Brandon Morrow
Colby Rasmus and Jose Reyes have had mild success against Jimenez from playing in the NL; Rasmus with a .632 SLG with 3 doubles in 19 at-bats and Reyes with a homerun and 4 RBI's in 13 at bats. Jose Bautista has struggled a little: .077/.143/.154 also in 13 at-bats. Brandon Morrow's last two grapefruit league outings were not good. He gave up 11 earned runs over 10 innings, striking out eight while walking five, but there's a reason why a lot of people say spring training stats don't matter, especially for a pitcher with no injury and no loss of velocity. Nick Swisher is only batting .160/.250/.280 against Morrow in 25 at-bats.
Thursday, April 4, 7:07EDT (STO)
Brett Myers vs. Mark Buehrle (L)
Mark Buehrle's pitch-to-contact method has caused havoc to past Indians teams, especially Eric Wedge's. One of the main factors why those teams had trouble with Buehrle was that they were patient, always waiting for a pitcher to make a mistake up in the strike zone; something Buehrle rarely does. So, when they would swing at a pitch knee high, the ball ended up on the ground and rolling conveniently to a White Sox infielder. Two things have changed since those days: Buehrle's command has faded a little (although it is still above average) and the Indians have become a more aggressive offense. Jason Giambi will get his first opportunity to mentor the hitters on how to attack Buehrle. Giambi is a career .414/.500/.931 with 4 home-runs and 12 hits in 29 at-bats against the southpaw.
R.A. Dickey will take on Justin Masterson on Opening Day.
Mike Melaragno

About Mike Melaragno

A 2010 graduate of Lee University, Mike loves writes about the game he loves most-- baseball. From an early age, he learned to live and die with the Tribe-- mostly die. Died a little when they lost the 1997 World Series in extra innings; died a lot when they were one game away from advancing to the fall classic in 2007 but fell to the Red Sox in game seven of the ALCS. He currently resides in Northeast Ohio.