The Indians were able to finally win a series, taking two out of three games from the Nationals, ending their long stretch against the top teams in the Majors. They generally wasted the chance to impress against this years prospective playoff crop, winning just 8 games of the 25. The Indians will be moving on now to play the third place Royals with second place in the Central Division on the line. This will start a stretch of seven series against Central Division foes in the next nine series.
Game 1: Monday, June 17th 7:05 PM EDT
James Shields, RHP, 2-6, 2.79 ERA vs Carlos Carrasco, RHP, 0-2, 15.26 ERA
Carrasco's suspension ends today and he will make what could be his last start this time around. Zach McAllister is able to come off the DL in time to take his next turn through the rotation and it couldn't happen soon enough. Carrasco has only been able to make two starts between suspensions and has yet to go five innings. Prior to the season, Carrasco looked to be the best internal option as fifth starter, but Corey Kluber has since surpassed him and Carrasco will be replaced in the rotation as soon as possible. The Indians are actually lucking out that the Royals are throwing their best pitcher in this match-up as they can drop just this game and focus on the other two to win the series.
Game 2: Tuesday, June 18th 7:05 PM EDT
Ervin Santana, RHP, 5-5, 2.74 ERA vs Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 5-4, 4.79 ERA
Ubaldo's numbers are still skewed by his first couple of starts of the season, but since his third start of the year he has lowered his ERA from 11.25 to under 5.00 now. His only start this year against Kansas City was one of his best this year when he shut out the Royals over seven innings. Most impressively, he retired 13 batters via the ground ball, his highest total of the year.
Santana has been very dominant against the Indians as well, throwing a no hitter back when he was with the Angels and throwing a shut out of his own against the Indians, two days before Jimenez'. Of the three games, this is the most mysterious, where it could be a complete pitcher's duel where either pitcher could throw a no hitter, or this could be the game where either pitcher breaks and returns their failures of the past. The Indians are definitely favored by a low scoring game as they have had some issues scoring runs even against the worst starters and their bullpen is still incredibly strong.
Game 3: Wednesday, June 19th 7:05 PM EDT
Luis Mendoza, RHP, 2-3, 4.08 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 8-5, 3.52 ERA
The Indians should have the most confidence in the finale as it sees the Tribe ace going against one of the worst members of the Royals staff. This, however, doesn't mean he will be easy to defeat. Mendoza, like Jimenez, has had his numbers skewed from a few bad starts at the beginning of the season. He has thrown eight straight starts with three runs allowed or less. Mendoza has seen success against most of the Indians hitters, but one interesting note is that Jason Giambi has a grand slam against him despite just two at bats.