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Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox — the rubber game

Josh Tomlin attemps to keep the Tribe in (or at least on the fringes of) the wild-card race in a crucial afternoon game at Progressive Field.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Indians

Sunday September 20th 2015, 1:10 ET, Progressive Field


Radio: WTAM C


Well, that was a kick in the cojones last night. Oh well, there's still meaningful baseball to be played, and Jason showed yesterday that teams can come back virtually from the dead to clinch playoff spots. It's not all over yet, but tonight's game is vital if the Indians are to carry any momentum whatsoever into the final fortnight of the season.

Josh Tomlin has continued to confound his (many) critics in recent weeks, pitching two complete games out of his last three outings. However, he did experience some speed bumps against the White Sox on September 9th, giving up homers to Abreu, Thompson and Saladino. Fortunately, he was so effective at limiting baserunners in that game that all three HRs were of the solo variety.

Keeping runners off base has been one of the main keys to Tomlin's success in the seven games since his return from shoulder surgery. If those solo homers start becoming multi-hit ones then that would change the whole picture regarding his effectiveness.

For the third time in the series, the White Sox turn to a lefty starter, the 30yo John Danks. Prior to signing a five-year, $65MM contract extension at the end of 2011, Danks had amassed 15.5 fWAR in his first five years in MLB. However, he then turned into a pumpkin and recorded a combined 1.0 fWAR over the next three seasons.

This year has actually been his best since 2011, with 1.4 fWAR in 27 starts, but a 4.56 ERA/4.53 FIP is hardly anything to get too excited about. In three early-season starts against the Tribe he gave up 12 earned runs in a combined 16 IP, including homers by Ryan Raburn, Mike Aviles, Nick Swisher and Brett Hayes.

Today's Lineups

Adam Eaton - CF Jason Kipnis - 2B
Jose Abreu - 1B Francisco Lindor - SS
Melky Cabrera - LF Michael Brantley - LF
Trayce Thompson - RF Ryan Raburn - DH
Avisail Garcia - DH Carlos Santana - 1B
Alexei Ramirez - SS Mike Aviles - 3B
Mike Olt - 3B Yan Gomes - C
Tyler Flowers - C Lonnie Chisenhall - RF
Carlos Sanchez - 2B Abraham Almonte - CF
John Danks - LHP Josh Tomlin - RHP

Tito is apparently a believer in the fallacious "hot hand" theory. I can't think of any other reason why he would bat Aviles (who is 9-21 in his last six games) 6th in the lineup. Even though Gomes is out of sorts and both Chisenhall and Almonte aren't at their best against lefties, they should never be receiving fewer ABs in a game than Aviles.