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Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox series preview

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a little over a week since they last played, but the Cleveland Indians already feel like a different team than they were when they dropped the last series against the Chicago White Sox, 1-2. They got to beat up on the Minnesota Twins and sometimes, that’s all a team really needs to get back on track.

While the Indians do look like they might be ready to be themselves for the 2017 season, they are unfortunately going up against two left-handed pitchers this series, which has proved to be a problem early on. To make matters worse, they are facing one of the best southpaws in the game in Jose Quintana.

Rain shouldn’t be an issue for the series, though temperatures are not exactly ideal baseball weather — low- to high-50s, at best.

Pitching matchups

Friday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) vs. Jose Quintana (LHP)

When the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for a treasure trove of prospects, they handed the mantle of “team ace” to Jose Quintana. So far this season, he’s dropped it, tripped over it, and hurt his toe when he tried to kick the damn thing for cursing him.

No one should expect Quintana to continue being this bad, but the 28-year-old has a 6.75 ERA over his first three starts. He is still striking plenty of batters out, but he has already walked 11 percent of the batters he’s faced; well above his 6.3 percent career average. He has also allowed four home runs in 17.1 Back in 2015, in 206.1 innings, he allowed 16 over the whole season.

Corey Kluber hasn’t looked much better as the Tribe’s ace, having given up at least five runs in two of his first three starts. In his last outing against the Detroit Tigers, Kluber set a season-high mark for strikeouts with eight, but he still allowed six earned runs off of eight hits. That was supposedly Kluber’s first “healthy” start of the season, as he was working with a blister in the first game and a sore back in the second. We’ll see what he can do tonight in his second healthy start of the year.

Saturday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) vs. James Shields (RHP)

James Shields is, uh, good. No wait, bad. No, awful. Hold on, lucky. Wait, I have no idea.

To date, Shields has walked 10 (!!) of the 69 batters he’s faced, and he’s also allowed nine hits. Throw in his one intentional walk, and nearly a third of the batters he’s faced have gotten on base. Yet somehow he’s allowed just three runs off of three solo home runs. Oh, and he has a 27.9 percent ground ball rate, just to complete the witchcraft trifecta.

Having a .150 opponent BABIP and 100 percent strand rate might have something to do with it, but if I’m James Shields I’m going to just shut up and pretend like I’m doing something right, because it’s clearly working as far as keeping runs off the board is concerned.

Shields’ outing against the Indians in the last series was not a weird one at all — he was straight up dominant for 5.1 innings. He struck out six, walked two, and allowed just two hits.

Carlos Carrasco’s FIP sits at 4.06, which would be the highest of his career since 2013 if he held it all season, but his ERA sits at an excellent 2.33. He’s given up exactly one home run in each of his first three starts, but he has a combined 19 strikeouts over those 19.1 innings.

Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. Derek Holland (LHP)

Derek Holland should be pretty easy to beat. In theory anyway. In practice, he’s one of those soft tossin’ lefties the Indians have had so much trouble with this season, including his six-inning one-hitter they were dealt by Holland on April 12. Holland’s other two outings weren’t bad either: six innings, four hits against the Twins and he was pulled from his last game against the New York Yankees before things got out of hand.

Danny Salazar is what he is. And what he is, at his best, is a pitcher with a remarkable ability to get strikeouts, but will also load the bases multiple times against a limp Twins lineup. That’s exactly what he did in his last outing against Minnesota, but he struck out seven and managed to leave the game after six innings and only one run scored. At this point, I no longer doubt his ability to keep a score low. His strikeout stuff is enough to overcome constant control issues. But don’t expect Salazar the throw a nine-inning gem anytime soon. Grab some heart medicine, find a nice stress ball, and buckle up for six innings of vintage Salazar on Sunday.

Upcoming schedule

The Indians will return home after this series to face the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners before hitting the road to face Detroit.

White Sox roster

Poll

How many wins will the Indians have against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    3
    (44 votes)
  • 64%
    2
    (102 votes)
  • 6%
    1
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (2 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now