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Series preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins

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The Indians have hit the nadir of their season for the sixth time now. They hope not go further down that spiral as the Minnesota Twins arrive for a weekend series at Progressive.

The future, Miguel Sano, and the contract albatross, Joe Mauer
The future, Miguel Sano, and the contract albatross, Joe Mauer
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

As the Tribe opens this home stand with the Minnesota Twins, they find themselves in last place, nine games under .500. This is the sixth time they have reached that depth, thus far managing to avoid going any lower.

  • Friday 7:10 PM: Mike Pelfrey (R) vs. Cody Anderson (R)
  • Saturday 7:10 PM: Ervin Santana (R) vs. Trevor Bauer (R)
  • Sunday 1:10 PM: Phil Hughes (R) vs. Corey Kluber (R)

The Upcoming Schedule: After the Twins depart, the Tribe will take Monday off. They then get their first look at the New York Yankees this season as they visit Progressive for three games. Immediately after, the Indians depart on a three city trip, Minnesota, Boston and New York.

Division Watch: White Sox at Royals, Red Sox at Tigers.

Team in a Box

Minnesota Twins

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2014 Record

54-54

Runs/Game

4.2

10th

Runs/Game

4.3

6th

AL Central

2nd

OBP

301

15th

H/9

9.5

14th

Last 10

2-8

SLG

395

9th

BB/9

2.5

1st

Last 30

13-17

Steals

51

9th

SO/9

6.1

15th

In a scheduling quirk, these division rivals have only played two series so far this season, with the Twins taking two of three both times. They haven't played since early May. After that second series, the Twins got fairly hot and even landed in first place of the Central in early June. But since then, they have been stuck in second place in the division, with last night's loss to Toronto dropping them to 0.500. Since the All-Star break, they have been ice cold, winning just five of nineteen games and are on a five game losing streak.

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Offensively they can't get on base very well, but still score decently enough. And pitching wise, they are a conundrum. They barely walk anyone, leading the league, but allow the second most hits and strike out the fewest batters.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Kurt Suzuki

R

326

228

584

58

1B

Joe Mauer

L

438

264

699

89

2B

Brian Dozier

R

473

248

812

121

3B

Trevor Plouffe

R

421

253

770

111

SS

Eduardo Escobar

S

257

246

666

80

LF

Eddie Rosario

L

274

272

727

97

CF

Aaron Hicks

S

215

277

750

106

RF

Torii Hunter

R

398

245

725

98

DH

Miguel Sano

R

116

277

926

158

OF

Shane Robinson

R

147

244

608

67

IF

Eduardo Nunez

R

143

261

706

92

As these team haven't met in three months, there has been some decent turnover. Eduardo Escobar has taken over at short for Danny Santana. Taking his place in left field is Eddie Rosario. Top prospects Miguel Sano and Bryan Buxton both arrived, although Buxton is now on the DL. Santana, Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Herrmann were all optioned out. Jordan Schafer was released and Doug Bernier was outrighted.

Yesterday Eric Fryer, their backup catcher was DFA'ed, so they now only have two guys on the bench and that leaves Mauer as the emergency catcher. I would expect Herrmann to be recalled at some point in this series. They also have anotehr open spot, so Buxton might also be activated off the DL.

In the past two weeks, Rosario (983 OPS), Sano (961) and Hicks (892) have led the offense. Sano, Hunter and Dozier all have cranked three home runs. Maeur (450 OPS) and Suzuki (560) have really struggled.

In the first two series between these two teams, Hunter was the scary monster with a 1448 OPS, three home runs and nine driven in. Dozier has two solo shots and a 922 OPS. Plouffe, who took 2014 in killing the Tribe is back at it this year, with a 1275 OPS. Escobar is the only current regular who struggled those first two series, 583 OPS.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

Phil Hughes

R

4.14

4.72

141.1

1.25

5.3

Kyle Gibson

R

3.78

4.11

135.2

1.30

6.4

Mike Pelfrey

R

3.65

4.06

118.1

1.40

4.3

Trevor May

R

4.18

3.15

92.2

1.36

8.2

Ervin Santana

R

3.89

5.56

51.1

1.29

5.9

Glen Perkins

L

2.51

3.56

43.0

1.00

8.0

Blaine Boyer

R

2.87

4.14

47.0

1.32

4.6

Casey Fien

R

3.96

3.98

36.1

1.07

5.2

Brian Duensing

L

5.60

4.34

27.1

1.54

4.9

J.R. Graham

R

4.21

4.73

51.1

1.29

7.4

Ryan O'Rourke

L

1.59

2.92

11.1

0.88

11.9

Kevin Jepsen#

R

3.07

4.19

44.0

1.32

7.8

#includes stats with Rays

Pelfrey pitched a gem against the Mariners last time out and has a 3.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 4.1 K/9 in his last five starts. He has won both of his starts against the Tribe this year, with three runs, nine hits and six Ks in 12 innings. Santana missed the first 80 games of the season as he was suspended. He looked great against the A's and Angels, but the Pirates hit him hard. He is just 3-9 in his 17 career Tribe starts, with a 1.19 WHIP, 7.0 K/9 and 4.09 ERA. Hughes looked great against the Yankees three starts ago, but has basically struggled in his past five starts, 3.94 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 4.8 K/9. The Tribe has hit him hard in his two starts this year, eight runs, 18 hits in 13 innings, but he still won one of the two.

Boyer, Perkins and Duensing have not been scored upon by the Indians this year, with Graham the only other current reliever who has pitched against them. Between those four, they have a 1.03 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 7.3 K/9.

On the Shelf

  • CF Bryan Buxton [15 day DL], possible mid-August return, on AAA rehab
  • SP Tom Milone [15 day DL], possible mid-August return
  • SP Ricky Nolasco [60 day DL], possible September return
  • P Ryan Pressley [60 day DL], possible late August return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

2

4

333

23

30

381

2014

11

8

579

90

63

658

Last 5*

47

45

511

402

403

499

Last 10*

95

89

516

793

780

508

All-Time

1112

973

533

9593

8945

532

*Does not include 2015 stats

Prediction: As poorly the Tribe has played this year at home and with how teams that are struggling seem to get their groove back when they play, I still am calling for a series win. Maybe I'm just crazy.