As the Indians epic slide into oblivion continues, a few things are being made more clear. We now know that Grady Sizemore will not be playing a single game for the Indians in 2012 (and probably none after that), despite his $5 million incentive laden contract. We also know that Josh Tomlin is out for the year and most of next year as well while he gets Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. We know that Lonnie Chisenhall and Rafael Perez are continuing with their rehab and are both expected to return before the end of the season. We also know that the Indians struggles against left handed pitching were really just a sign of a terrible offense that was for some reason hitting well against right handed pitching.
This losing streak has brought out the truth of the Indians offense and allowed everyone to see what it really is. A bunch of .250 and lower average hitters with little or no power and just a tiny bit of speed. There are definitely stand outs in the group, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and newcomer Ezequiel Carrera, but none of them is a true middle of the order hitter and would probably bat first, second, sixth, seventh and ninth (in the order listed above) in a decent lineup. The rest of the lineup could be scrapped, keeping Carlos Santana around as well of course, removing Casey Kotchman, Jack Hannahan, Shelley Duncan and the rest of the hangers on. The problem is that to really improve the lineup they would have to bring in players that are actually better than the players already here, and that costs money, so it won’t happen.
A team that actually spends money is coming into town for a three game series, and is leading off game one with direct proof of that. If the Indians were willing to spend with the best of them, C.C. would be starting this game for the Indians instead of the Yankees and Brantley would still be in Milwaukee with Matt LaPorta. If the Indians had spent the money to keep Sabathia, as well as Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, they would probably be paying those three players as much as the rest of their roster on a yearly basis, but they certainly would have won a lot more games this year and last, and would probably be dominating the division instead of trying to make it to last place.
You could argue that Kluber’s last start was his best of four this season because he didn’t allow any earned runs, but I won’t do that. When you give up a home run, you should never be able to say you gave up zero earned runs. Kluber will be facing his toughest task yet, an expensive Yankees lineup, leading the AL East by a considerable margin.
You may have noticed I haven’t been writing much about the other Indians starters when they pitch. This is because I’ve previewed each starter more than 20 times and there is very little left to write about without repeating myself over and over. If something new and interesting happens, I’ll be sure to cover it.
Kuroda has been splendid in his first season with the Yankees, already matching his career shutout total and sporting a single season low ERA and WHIP. He’s the Yankees most dominating starter on a weekly basis (although the Indians will probably have more trouble with Sabathia). The Indians one hope is that with Justin Masterson throwing, they will be able to keep this game close, late.
Apparently every team other than the Indians decided to go old this year. In the past two series the Tribe has faced Bartolo Colon (since suspended) and Kevin Millwood and will now face Freddy Garcia. Unlike Kuroda, Garcia seems to be having the worst season of his career. Although he has had a few injury shortened years, he has never pitched a full season with an ERA over 5.00. The Indians can do that. They could score all the runs they score in this series in the first two innings against Garcia and push his ERA over the brink. Assuming they lose the first two games (I am), they will need this one to keep the losing streak from getting to double digits for the second time this month.