An unexpected sweep of the Texas Rangers allowed the Indians to maintain their position in the AL Central standings and they will now move on to face the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have struggled and remain dead last in the Central with a record of just 40-61. The Tigers will go on to face the Nationals, who are falling fast, so the Indians will need to at least win this series to keep up with Detroit. The good thing for Cleveland is that the pitching match-ups heavily favor the Indians, who have had tremendous starting pitching since the All-Star break. As a whole, the pitching staff has held opponents to just 1.82 runs per game since coming back from a much needed rest.
Game 1: Monday, July 29th 7:05 PM EDT
John Danks, LHP, 2-8, 4.81 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 4-6, 3.57 ERA
McAllister will be making his second start since his return from a long stay on the disabled list and will look to improve upon his last start. Against the Mariners, McAllister threw his worst game of the season to this point, but he will certainly improve on that this time around as he gets his timing back. All the Indians starters are in luck in this series as compared to the Rangers, the White Sox might as well be a AAA team.
Game 2: Tuesday, July 30th 7:05 PM EDT
Jake Peavy, RHP, 8-4, 4.28 ERA vs Scott Kazmir, LHP, 6-4, 3.96 ERA
Peavy was once a Cy Young Award winning pitcher and a man who held an sub-3.00 ERA in four out of five seasons (from '04 – '08), but that pitcher doesn't exist anymore. The current edition has struggled this year at 32 years old, but is still in high demand in the trade market, and may actually not make this start if the White Sox can work out some kind of deal. Just because he has struggled against the league, doesn't make him a push over for the Tribe. Against the Indians he has won five of his 11 starts with a 3.93 ERA and 66 strike outs. The Indians didn't face Peavy during his Padres years, so these numbers are from his recent stint with the White Sox.
Kazmir has been the Indians hottest pitcher of late, throwing great games in his last seven starts. His last game was his best of the year as he went 8 shut out innings and struck out seven. He is a prime candidate now for the AL Comeback Player of the Year and he'll look to continue his success against the Sox.
Game 3: Wednesday, July 31st 7:05 PM EDT
Jose Quintana, LHP, 5-3, 3.55 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 7-5, 3.74 ERA
Quintana has been the most successful White Sox starter against the Indians in recent days, but as the team has finally started to play better against left handers, this may be about to change. So far, Quitana has an ERA of 2.37 in six games (his second best against any team with more than one start against). Since Mark Reynolds was held out of the series against Texas, there is a chance he will get a chance to come back against this tough left hander.
Game 4: Thursday, August 1st 12:05 PM EDT
Chris Sale, RHP, 6-10, 2.69 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 12-7, 3.42 ERA
Indians fans will be treated to another outstanding pitching match-up in the finale of this series when aces collide against Chicago. Sale's record is not indicitave to his ability as the White Sox have provided him with little to no run support. Sale ranks second in the AL (behind Felix Hernandez) in pitching WAR at 5.3. It seems kind of interesting that he should be winning more than five games more than a replacement player and only has six wins on the season, but this just shows how bad the White Sox have been as a team.
The last great match-up like this went the Tribe's way when Masterson out dueled Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers, so the Indians have another shot to unseat an All-Star (who should have been the MVP of that game) as Masterson should have no problems with the Chicago offense.