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Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners series preview

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The Indians now turn their attention to a much less formidable AL West opponent.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With yesterday’s victory over the Houston Astros, the Cleveland Indians head into their final series of April guaranteed to finish the month at least .500! For this final weekend of the month, the Tribe will take on another AL West opponent in the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners are currently sitting last in the AL West, having lost five of their last ten games. They were swept in Oakland before winning two out of three against the Tigers.

Pitching matchups

Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Ariel Miranda (LHP) vs. Carlos Carrasco (RHP)

The Cleveland Indians find themselves facing another lefty in the form of 28 year old Ariel Miranda on Friday night. Miranda was signed as an amateur free agent by the Baltimore Orioles in 2015 and eventually made his way to Seattle last year in the Wade Miley trade. Ariel pitched a grand total of 58.0 innings in 2016 and looked pretty good for a rookie (ERA+ of 106).

Miranda is off to a slow start this season; through his first four starts and 20.2 innings, he has a 4.35 ERA and a 5.34 FIP (or an ERA+ of 88). He’s giving up home runs at a high rate (2.18 HR/9) and isn’t striking out many (he has 17 thus far).

Miranda’s most recent start came against the Oakland Athletics on April 22. He got rocked to the tune of 4 runs over 3.0 innings and surrendered a pair of home runs to Adam Rosales and Ryon Healy.

Opposite Miranda will be the Tribe’s Ace 2.0 Carlos Carrasco. Cookie has been the best pitcher for Cleveland thus far in 2017. He holds a minuscule 1.65 ERA over 27.1 innings of work (ERA+ of 264), he’s one of the top five AL pitchers in WAR (1.6), and he’s striking out just under a batter an inning. His last start against the Chicago White Sox on April 22 was an absolute gem and is only overshadowed because Corey Kluber pitched a complete game shutout the night prior. But Carrasco held the Sox to just three hits over eight innings and walked one while striking out eight.

Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET: Yovani Gallardo (RHP) vs. Danny Salazar (RHP)

Yovani Gallardo had a pretty dreadful 2016 for the Baltimore Orioles and has not impressed thus far in 2017 on his new team. He did go on the DL briefly last season for some shoulder issues and only threw 118.0 innings, his lowest season total since 2008 when he spent significant time on the DL due to a torn ACL.

Per FanGraphs WAR, Gallardo has been the second best pitcher on the Mariners this season...he’s been worth 0.3 WAR. He hardly gives up any home runs, but he does like to walk a good amount of hitters (4.7 BB/9 last season, 2.8 BB/9 this season so far). His slider tends to be his primary pitch alongside his fastball that sits in the low 90s, so don’t expect him to blow any hitters away.

Gallardo had his best game of the season on April 23 against the Oakland Athletics. He went 6.1 innings and allowed just one run on four hits and walked one while striking out seven. His FIP of 3.65 indicates that he’s been a bit better than his ERA of 4.84 (ERA+ of 79), but he still has not done exceedingly well.

Depending on which inning you watch, Danny Salazar is either a Cy Young candidate or someone who shouldn’t be pitching on a major league baseball team. So far in 2017, he has been exactly average with an ERA+ of 100. With Salazar, you know what you’re getting: a ton of strikeouts, a good amount of walks and probably not a long outing due to pitch count issues. His last start on April 23 against the White Sox was a great example of this. Danny struck out nine batters over 5.0 innings, but he also walked three and gave up four earned runs. Salazar has top tier stuff, but control issues seem to get the better of him more often than not.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. ET: Chase De Jong (RHP) vs. Josh Tomlin (RHP)

The 23 year old rookie from Long Beach, CA will make his first major league start on Sunday, and he’s facing one of the best lineups in the AL. Looking at De Jong’s minor league numbers, he typically will give up few home runs and walk less than a batter per inning. His fastball tops out around 91mph and he pairs it with a sinker, curveball, and slider. He’s only been utilized in relief so far this year, and in 4.2 innings, he’s given up three earned runs, walked three, and struck out two.

His last outing was on April 22 when he pitched four innings in relief against the Athletics and gave up just one hit. With Felix Hernandez on the DL at the moment, De Jong will have a chance to showcase his talent in the starting rotation. But losing King Felix and replacing him with a young rookie is a severe blow to the rotation.

Everyone’s favorite starter, Josh Tomlin, makes his fifth start of the season. While his ERA seems bad at 9.33, it was worse the game prior when it was at 11.68, so he’s trending in the right direction! His previous two starts have actually been solid; in each start, he’s lasted six innings and given up just three earned runs each time. Surprisingly, none of those runs came via the home run, which has historically been Tomlin’s Achilles Heel.

Upcoming schedule

At the conclusion of this homestand, the Cleveland Indians will have a ten game road trip where they will play four games against the Detroit Tigers, three games against the Kansas City Royals, and three games against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Storylines

Has Yan Gomes really turned a corner?

Over the past week, Yan Gomes has done well at the plate in a very limited sample size (11 plate appearances). During that time, he has slashed .333/.400/.333 while still providing elite defense behind the plate. Obviously 11 plate appearances doesn’t offset the 2+ seasons of terrible offensive performance, but maybe there’s some life in the Yanimal yet.

Can Josh Tomlin have a third strong start in a row?

As mentioned above, Josh Tomlin has looked good in his previous two starts and has given up no home runs in those 12 innings. However, he’ll now face a lineup with Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, and Kyle Seager, all of whom hit at least 20 home runs last season. If the Indians want to win Tomlin’s start, he’s going to have to keep the ball in the yard.

Will the Indians finish above .500 in April for the first time since 2012?

The Indians need to take at least one of the three games against the Mariners to ensure that they will finish with a winning record for the month of April. The last time this was done was in 2012 when Manny Acta was still the manager and the team went 11-9 in April. We don’t need to talk about the rest of the year (especially August of that season...)

Seattle Mariners roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Mariners?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    3
    (122 votes)
  • 51%
    2
    (171 votes)
  • 6%
    1
    (22 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (14 votes)
329 votes total Vote Now