For the first time in 875 days, the Cleveland Indians will play a home game at Progressive Field. It has been a lengthy road trip, filled with trips to distant lands like Texas, the Coast of the West, and Kansas City, Missouri. The Indians lost a lot of sleep on that trip (as did their fans staying up until 2:00 a.m. ET to watch them play), but more importantly, they lost their sole possession of first place in the American League Central Division.
While the Indians rested yesterday, the Kansas City Royals played -- and lost to -- the Detroit Tigers. Meaning, technically, the Indians are back in sole possession of the AL Central lead. But if they lose tonight and the Royals win, the division swings right back into Kansas City hands.
So, just win. Okay. Please?
Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Jose Quintana (LHP)
By most metrics, Jose Quintana is the White Sox's best pitcher this season, even with Chris Sale still existing. Quintana currently has better numbers than Sale than in ERA, FIP, FanGraphs WAR, and walks. In years past, the Indians lineup might be terrified of playing a lefty as good as Quintana, but this season the Indians have not had as much trouble with southpaws. Quintana is coming off of a start against the Royals in which he struck out 10, but allowed three solo home runs in an eight-inning loss.
The Indians will send Trevor Bauer to the mound, which likely means Chris Gimenez will be catching him behind the plate. Gimenez has caught every Trevor Bauer start since May 5, and in that time, Trevor has a pitched 53 innings with 42 strikeouts, 16 walks, and 19 earned runs. That all equates to a 3.23 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. Whatever Gimenez is doing with Bauer, it is obviously working, and hopefully it keeps working.
Bauer's last start was one of his best -- an eight-inning effort with three strikeouts and two earned runs allowed. Prior to that, he struck out 10 and allowed just one run in 7.2 innings against the Seattle Mariners.
Saturday, 6:10 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. James Shields (RHP)
James Shields. Oooooh boy, James Shields. The White Sox traded for the 34-year-old pitcher last week, and he has made two for his new team so far. It has not gone as planned.
In the two starts, combined, Shields has pitched 7.0 innings and allowed 13 runs. If you include his last start with his former team, the San Diego Padres, he has pitched in 9.2 innings and allowed 23 earned runs. He has not been good. At all.
On the other end of things is Danny Salazar, who has a legitimate shot at a Cy Young this season, if only he could get his walks down.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) vs. Carlos Rodon (LHP)
After splitting time as a starter and reliever last season, Carlos Rodon is 12 starts into his first season as a full-time starter. It's going about how you would expect -- not very well. His issue to this point has been home runs, but even his xFIP -- which normalizes home run rates -- puts him at 4.10, which is not great. Rodon has started to turn it around lately, however, especially in his last start against the Royals in which he struck out seven and walked two in six innings.
Carlos Carrasco finally looked closer to his pre-injury self in his last start, striking out eight and walking one in a loss to the Royals.
The Indians will enjoy a small homestand against the White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays before hitting the road again to face the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves while the Republican National Convention invades Cleveland.
Team in a box
The White Sox offense has not been great all season long, even when they started the season 23-10. Their strength has always been pitching, and that remains true even in their subsequent 10-23 freefall. The one issue this staff has is issuing walks, which they have progressively been doing more of as the season has progressed. Their disappointing strikeout totals come from Sale striking out fewer batters (on purpose, no less).
If anything is going to hurt the Indians the most, it is going to be the fact that this Chicago staff does not allow a lot of home runs. The Indians already struggle to hit balls out of the park, so the problem could be made worse against a group of pitchers like Chicago has. Although just about anyone can hit 10 home runs off of James Shields right now, so who knows.
- Did Bartolo Colon break James Shields? | Beyond the Box Score
This is pretty tongue-in-cheek, but James Shields' collapse can be traced to the exact moment Bartolo Colon hit his first career home run off of him.
- MLB Rumor Central: White Sox won't be sellers? | ESPN
No matter what happens between now and the trade deadline, the White Sox have made moves that mean they have to at least try and compete through the whole season.
Chicago White Sox roster
- C: Alex Avila
- 1B: Jose Abreu
- 2B: Brett Lawrie
- SS: Tim Anderson
- 3B: Todd Frazier
- LF: Melky Cabrera
- CF: Adam Eaton
- RF: Avisail Garcia
- DH: JB Shuck
- C: Dioner Navarro
- INF: Tyler Saladino
- OF: Jason Coats
Adam Eaton is the clearly the best hitter on the White Sox, leading the team with a 108 wRC+ and .276/.363/.397 slash. Todd Frazier, who the White Sox acquired in the offseason, leads the team with 19 home runs. That total also has him second in the American League just a shade behind Mark Trumbo's 20 long balls.
Melky Cabrera is having a nice rebound season after a disappointing year in 2015 with the Sox. His 107 wRC+ is a full 16 points over what he put up last season, and his on-base percentage (.345) is .031 higher than what it was in by the end of 2015.
- LHP: Chris Sale
- LHP: Jose Quintana
- LHP: Carlos Rodon
- RHP: James Shields
- RHP: Miguel Gonzalez
- RHP: David Robertson
- LHP: Zach Duke
- RHP: Zach Putnam
- LHP: Dan Jennings
- RHP: Nate Jones
- RHP: Matt Albers
- LHP: Matt Purke
- RHP: Michael Ynoa
- Austin Jackson, 15-day DL
- Justin Morneau, 15-day DL
- Jake Petricka, 15-day DL
- Daniel Webb, 15-day DL