A pair of sweeps against the Giants and Angels has left the Indians in last place and as far away from first as they have been in 2014 (5.5 games behind the Tigers for first, 2.5 games behind the White Sox for fourth). The biggest loss of the road trip, however, may have been second baseman Jason Kipnis will miss at least a few games this series as he hurt his right abs on a swing in game two against LA. Because of the upcoming off-day, there was no need to hurry in placing him on the DL, but a decision will likely be made by Friday.
Both teams are going into this series with altered pitching staffs compared to the first time around, although the differences hurt the White Sox severely more. Chris Sale has hit the DL since the Indians left Chicago and Felipe Paulino has joined him with three new pitchers making starts in their absence. The Indians, on the other hand, lost their fifth starter, rather than their first. This is the first time the removal of Carlos Carrasco to the bullpen will be noticed. Taking advantage of the off-day, the Indians will just move everyone up a day, meaning two of the three starters that will go against Chicago pitched against Los Angeles. Because of that, we will forgo the Indians half of the pitching previews.
Game 1: Friday, April 28th, 7:05 PM EDT
John Danks, LHP, 2-1, 3.48 ERA vs Danny Salazar, RHP, 0-3, 6.04 ERA
Danks earned his first win of the season against the Tribe last time the two teams faced and has turned it up another notch since then. He has averaged more than six innings per game so far this year and, outside of his last start against the Rays, has not allowed more than three runs in a game. The Indians were one of the teams to get three runs, but it wasn’t enough last time and likely won’t be this time either. With Sale out, Danks is essentially the ace of the Sox and he will be going against the least dependable of the Indians’ starters.
Game 2: Tuesday, April 29th, 6:05 PM EDT
Scott Carroll, RHP, 1-0, 1.23 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 0-1, 4.84 ERA
The same Rays that gave Danks trouble his last time around were owned by Carroll in his first Major League start. The rookie had quite an impressive debut, going 7.1 innings and allowing just a single earned run. Carroll was originally drafted by the Reds, but was released in summer of 2012 and signed by the White Sox. After a two solid stints in AAA, it seems that it may have been a good one. Of course, too much shouldn’t be made of one Major League start and it remains to be how successful Paulino’s replacement will be over the long term.
Game 3: Wednesday, April 30th, 1:05 PM EDT
Andre Rienzo, RHP, 2-0, 4.05 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 2-3, 4.14 ERA
Rienzo was part of a fun story with the Indians in 2013, when he became the first Brazilian born pitcher to throw against a Brazilian born hitter. This season, he didn’t make the squad out of Spring Training, but with six White Sox on the DL, Chicago has had to made quite a few moves. He has been solid enough for the power laden Sox, who have scored 13 runs in his two starts to back up his six earned runs allowed. Most likely, Gomes will get his third start against his country man, who he is .500 against with an RBI and a walk in four at bats.
Who’s Hot? – Who’s Not?
It took just three games in Anaheim for Carlos Santana to flip his fortunes around and go from the coldest player on the team to the hottest. In the series, he hit his second and third home runs of the season and knocked in six after plating just three over the first 25 games. Overall, he went 4-11 with a walk, bringing his average up to .151.
Ever since getting a day off when Corey Kluber threw a complete game, the Tribe relief corps hasn’t been the same. Josh Outman, C.C. Lee and Cody Allen have combined to throw 4.1 innings over the past week and have given up six hits, six runs and walked a batter. Allen had been the Tribe’s top reliever to this point, so to see him struggle is surprising and Outman had proven reliable over the first few weeks. Chances are, this is just bad timing as all three hit trouble at the same time.
On Deck: Continuing against the AL Central, the Tribe will stay in Cleveland and take on the Twins for four.