Yesterday two lineups faced pitchers they hadn't seen before, which in of itself would not be a recipe for domination. But both Cody Anderson and Jeff Locke also pitched well, and as a result yesterday's game breezed by in just over two hours, with the two lineups managing a combined one run on nine hits. The Pirates were the team with the run, and so they won 1-0.
Locke yesterday reminded me of vintage Jake Westbrook. Batters were getting themselves out early in the count on weak-hit grounders. Very few balls in play were hit hard, whether they ended up as base hits or outs. Yan Gomes had the hardest-hit hit, and it was an opposite-field single to lead off the second. Locke actually got better as his outing went on, retiring the last 21 batters he faced. It was a great relief that Clint Hurdle pulled Locke for closer Mark Melancon; the Indians got the tying and go-ahead run on base for Michael Brantley, which was about as good a situation as you could have for.
Cody Anderson pitched almost as well as Locke, throwing a complete (8 inning) game on 92 pitches. To say Anderson has exceeded expectations would be the understatement of the season. After three starts, Anderson sports a 0.75 ERA, and although some of that is BIP-based, he's still pitched fantastically well, and more importantly, has stanched what had been the open sore of the rotation - the fifth starter's spot.
You don't want to judge how good a player is based on his 3-4 weeks in the majors, whether those 3-4 weeks are good or bad. But defensively Urshela has been every bit as good as scouts have said, and defense isn't subject to adjustments by the other club. At the plate Urshela has held his own, hitting a respectable .274/.324/.354. Had Chisenhall produced that line, he'd still be the started at third base.
As for Chisenhall's future, that will probably be determined by the end of the season. If Urshela is still hit well enough to stay in the lineup, then Chisenhall is as good as gone, because the Indians aren't going to want to pay Chisenhall an arbitration salary as a backup third baseman. If Urshela struggles, and Chisenhall returns, providing some power down the stretch, then we're back to where we were at the beginning of the season.
In other words, the Kansas City Royals will be facing the National League, at least to start the All-Star Game. At least the last update showed a more sane set of results, with Miguel Cabrera overtaking Eric Hosmer, and Josh Donaldson pushing past Mike Moustakas.
Jason Kipnis won't be a starter, finishing behind Jose Altuve and Omar Infante(!), but he'll make the team. At least one of the starting pitchers (probably Corey Kluber) will also make the team. If that happens, I think that's pretty fair.
Latest 25-man/40-man roster
(embiggened version here)
The rotation's been really good, eh? And Jason Kipnis trails only Mike Trout when it comes to AL bWAR, which is good company to be in.
I see the Indians sticking with this roster until at least the All-Star Break. At some point Nick Swisher will be rehabbing in the minors, but I don't see the Indians rushing that rehab. Urshela and Lindor have been improvements over the players they replaced at the plate, not to mention their defense. Pitching and defense is the only way this club is going to get back into the race; Urshela/Lindor are perfect fits for that strategy.