Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Minnesota Twins

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Pitching Match-Ups:

DANNY SALAZAR IS THE GREATEST! For real though, this kid can pitch. Sure, he gave up a spirit crushing homer to that guy Cabrera the last time he threw a pitch, but just prior to that he’d struck that same man out, three times. With that change-up to supplement a filthy pile of terror that is his fastball and that snapdragon slider (my favorite term for any pitch ever) Mr. Salazar will be a fine piece in the rotation for a while, I hope anyway. Can he dominate the Twins? Sure he can. Will he? Wait and see.

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Andrew Albers will be making his second career major league start against the Tribe. Lot of youth, a lot of potential sharing the mound this day. His first start against the Royals was a 8.1 inning, four hit shutout performance, though only two strikeouts. At 27 he’s no phenom, but the Twins need pitching and in five seasons in the minors he proved to be adept at getting outs. He had a 2.48 ERA on the farm over 395.1 innings and 49 starts. Perhaps he’s a late bloomer, the Twins just started converting him to a starter last season in double A. But is he any good? Yeah, he’s probably alright. He’s a lefty so he’ll stick around and he relies heavily on command and control of his pitches, rarely hitting 90.Plus, there’s very little book on him yet, the Tribe will likely struggle a bit. But they always struggle in Minny.

  • Zach McAllister (4-7, 3.90 ERA, 4.55 SIERA) vs. Samuel Deduno (7-5, 3.38 ERA, 4.20 SIERA)

Zach keeps breaking my heart,  but it might just be our old foe regression coming into play. He’s posted a lower ERA than FIP all year, he was bound to bounce back toward the middle sooner or later and a DL stint didn’t help any. He didn’t make it out of the third against Detroit and neither did I. He’s sure to be better simply because the Twins aren’t that good offensively, but it’s looking like Mac might be the odd man out come next season. Of course, rotation depth is a myth, someone is going to get hurt, so it’s nice to have an embarrassment of riches, or at least quality pitching.

Deduno is one of the pitchers the Twins had at the beginning of the year to get through because it’s a waste year, and he’s performed as such. His last five starts though, he’s been pretty damn good. A 2.48 ERA, 1.67 GB/FB rate, and only one homer. He has walked 16 to 22 K’s, so it’s bound to not keep up, but he’s enjoyed some strong luck and good timing. Last time he faced the Indians he allowed four runs in six innings, with only Michael Brantley getting an extra-base hit off him. Brantley also struck out twice. Deduno is nothing flashy, but he’ll pitch, a solid, unspectacular game if yo give him the chance.

  • Carlos Carrasco (0-4, 7.75 ERA, 4.93 SIERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.43 ERA, 4.76 SIERA)

The Infamous Carrasco making a surprise return to the rotation with the injury to Corey Kluber. Sad news for the Corey Kluber Society, but good news for the much smaller Carlos Carrasco fan club. I am one of like four members. He pitched in relief against Los Angelaheim on Friday after Scott Kazmir got blasted, and comported himself well. One hit, three walks and four K’s in five innings – can’t ask for much more than that. Plus he’s been vaporizing minor league batters – 79 K’s in 71.1 innings with a 3.14 ERA and 21 walks. The control will return as he gets more used to the new elbow (lest we forget, he’s still coming back from the TJ) and wherever he lands his place come September and then 2014 will be in Cleveland. It’s just a matter of where. In five career games against the Twins he’s held them to a .645 OPS with no homers. He’s only struck out 18 Twinkies career-wise, with 13 walks, and one of those needs to climb while the other drops for him to find success. His middle name is Luis.

KYLE GIBSON! HURRAY! Forgive me, I feel a special connection to Kyle, we worked for the same minor league club one summer. Granted, he was pitching and I was an unpaid intern, but it counts. Kyle was drafted 22nd overall, same draft as Stephen Strasburg, a couple of spots behind Shelby Miller and three spots above Mike Trout. Highly touted, he had the TJ and is on his way back. Big and right-handed, he reminds you of a lot of Twins pitchers over the years. He’s thrown 42 innings in the majors and besides the ERA he’s allowing 11.4 hits per nine while striking out only 5.4. Growing pains, and the Twins aren’t shooting for the stars yet, so as long as he improves. He throws in the low 90’s with a solid change and a decent slider. Fangraphs projects him to be a number three-type starter in the majors. So you know, a Twins pitcher.

Final Thought:

This last week has been truly dreadful for the Indians, all but sinking most hopes for the division crown. The win on Sunday combined with the Tigers loss was nice, but realistically, the Wild Card is the best bet. So winning is key, and they need to beat the Twins. Baseball, as a rule, isn’t a game played with a sense of urgency, but there has to be some of that here. It’s a tough trip with a great Oakland club and the underachieving but talented Angels looming, so it needs to start right.