Series Preview: Pirates at Indians 6/15-17

The Indians were just swept by the first place Cincinnati Reds in a 3 game series and hope to turn things around as they return home to play the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are also coming off a 3-game losing steak after being swept by the Baltimore Orioles. Tribe pitching was not as dominating against the Reds as it had been in the previous series with the Cardinals. Jeanmar Gomez and Derek Lowe had average starts, but Josh Tomlin had his worst start of the year, going just 4 innings and giving up 6 runs. The bullpen was also rough the last series, giving up 11 runs in 9 innings pitched. The worst bullpen outing was yesterday by Scott Barnes, who gave up 5 runs and recorded just one out. On a positive note, the Indians added Esmil Rogers to their pen, who had 2 solid outings last series.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are sitting in 2nd place in the NL Central Division, 3 games behind the Cincinnati Reds. Their offense is led by Andrew McCutchen, who is leading the team in every offensive category with a .326 batting average, 11 home runs, and 37 RBI. He is also a threat on the bases with 13 stolen bases this year. Their starting pitching is above average and their closer, Joel Hanrahan, is tied for 5th in the Majors with 17 saves.

June 15th, 7:05 PM EST: James McDonald, RHP, 5-2, 2.39 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 2-6, 4.76 ERA

Justin Masterson is coming off a strong outing. In his last start against the Cardinals, Masterson pitched 7 innings and gave up just one run. Though he took the loss, this start was promising since he had horrible outings the 2 starts prior. Masterson still has just 2 wins on the season as the Tribe ace. In two games against the NL this season, Masterson has given up just 3 runs in 14 innings, good for a 1.93 ERA. He has also struck out 11 NL batters.

Jame McDonald went just 4 innings in his last start against the Kansas City Royals. He gave up 3 runs on 5 hits before being removed from the game. He is currently ranked 7th in the NL with a 2.39 ERA and 3rd in the NL with a WHIP of 1.00. McDonald’s main pitch is his 4-seam fast ball with speeds ranging from 91-94 MPH. He also adds a 2-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup to his pitch variety. McDonald is not over-powering, but he has had much success this season. He is coming off his worst start of the year, so he will be looking to dominate Tribe hitters.

June 16th, 4:05 PM EST: A.J. Burnett, RHP, 6-2, 3.61 ERA vs Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 6-4, 4.91 ERA

Ubaldo Jimenez has been dominating in his last 2 starts. He combined for 13.2 innings pitched against the Tigers and Cardinals and gave up just 2 runs. In his last start against the Cardinals, he gave up just 5 hits: 4 singles and a home run. Jimenez had great control; this was his first game all season without allowing a walk. Ubaldo looks to continue his streak of quality starts as he faces off against the Pirates.

A.J. Burnett has been struggling on the road this year. Away from PNC Park, Burnett is 2-2 with an ERA over 8. On the road, opponents are batting .349 against him. Progressive Field is considered to be a hitter-friendly park, so the Indians can definitely take advantage of his woes on the road. Burnett has recently been pitching well with 5 straight wins. His go-to pitch is the 4-seam fastball, but he also has a knucklecurve, a cutter, and a sinker. His speed on his fastball is in the low 90s. You can expect him to walk just 2-4 batters a game and strike out 4-6.

June 17th, 1:05 PM EST: Brad Lincoln, RHP, 3-2, 3.15 ERA vs Jeanmar Gomez, RHP, 4-5, 4.71 ERA

The last 4 starts have not been great for Jeanmar Gomez after being solid for the first part of the season. His last start against the Reds was average, and his 4 starts previous to that were terrible. This will be his 3rd start against the NL this season. In his first 2 starts against NL teams, he has given up just one earned run and has 6 strikeouts. His success against the National League looks promising going into Sunday’s game.

Right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln has been bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and starting roles this season. He will get the start on Sunday after coming off of 2 rocky starts, in which he combined for 8.1 innings pitched and gave up 9 runs. He has only started 3 games this year, so the Indians may be able to take advantage of the fact that he can’t go late into ballgames. Right handed batters have more success against Lincoln. He has given up 5 home runs to righties and none to lefties. This may be advantageous to him as the Indians have a lefty-heavy line up.