For the first half of the season the Indians went back and forth with the White Sox for first place while the Tigers sat in third. The roles have been reversed now as the Tigers are within a game of a first place tie with Chicago while the Indians are within a single game of being tied for last in the Central with the Twins. With the first overall draft pick the only thing left to play for in 2012, it may be hard for the Indians to find motivation in this last month of the season. A couple players who won’t need motivating are those already called up with the recent roster expansion. Thomas Neal and Russ Canzler have each been thrust into games, batting in the top part of the lineup and have already had some success in limited action.
Corey Kluber will be making his seventh start of the season and the first not in the horrible month of August (so, it was all his fault the Indians lost 24 games). Even though he has allowed 3 or fewer runs in four of his six starts, the Indians have lost every single one. His luck is unlikely to change against the Tigers, who are on a mission to pass the White Sox and have beaten the Indians in their last three matchups.
I could tell you that Porcello has struggled against the Tribe, allowing an ERA of 4.06 and a WHIP of 1.27, but none of that matters because this Indians team is all about being different. Situations that used to be strengths are now glaring weaknesses. While earlier in the season a series against three right handed pitchers seemed like an automatic series win, but it certainly doesn’t any more.
Playing for a contract has apparently not provided the motivation needed for Jimenez to perform. Last month Ubaldo was only able to pitch through the sixth inning a single time and increased his ERA to one of it’s highest points of the season. While he has kept opposing teams to just three runs in his last four starts, his lack of stamina (or his tendency to throw a lot of pitches) has made this less than impressive. Even though he threw an average of about 100 pitches per game during the last month he did it in just an average of 5.2 innings per game.