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Cleveland Indians vs. Arizona Diamondbacks series preview

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West Coast trips suck, so the Indians are getting one out of the way early.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hello baseball fans, welcome to the nightmare known as West Coast start times as the Cleveland Indians travel west to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Luckily only one game takes place in the Wacky World of West Coast-y Times, which is tonight’s 9:40 p.m. start.

The Indians are coming off of a... let’s just call it pretty good series. Similarly, but not as dramatically, the Diamondbacks are also coming off a pretty good series against a great team, the San Francisco Giants, having won three of the four games at home to start their 2017 campaign.

We’re still in early April, so try not to get too emotional over this series, no matter what happens. Games still count, but nothing is over if things go south. Unless of course Lindor cracks another epic grand slam to win, then by all means cry like a baby in excitement — I sure will be.

The weather in Phoenix (home of Chase Field [home of the Diamdbacks (the team the Indians will be playing)]) will be sunny and in the 80s to 90s throughout the weekend, because of course it will be. Until nature finds a way to rain fire, don’t expect much else out of Arizona.

Pitching matchups

Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) vs. Shelby Miller (RHP)

Shelby Miller will make his 2017 debut tonight against the Tribe after a, uh, disappointing 2016. “Disappointing” is a bit of an undersell given just how bad Miller was last season after everything the former front office members of the Diamondbacks gave up to acquire him — including top shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson.

In his inaugural season with the Diamondbacks, Miller had a 6.15 ERA and 4.87 FIP in just 20 starts. His start to the season was so bad that it warranted a demotion in June and several more throughout the season. He had a few more rough starts in the second half of the season, but he did finish with two strong starts against the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. In those final outings, combined, he threw for 11 innings with eight strikeouts, four walks, and no earned runs — his only shutouts of the season.

The potential is certainly still there with Miller, but he’s not going to have an easy 2017 debut against this Indians lineup.

Cleveland will open the series with Josh Tomlin, who had basically the exact opposite 2016 as Miller. Not many people expect Tomlin to be an ace, but he almost looked like one at times last season if you squinted really hard. Tomlin, the longest-tenured player in the Indians organization, finished 2016 with a 4.40 ERA and a 4.88 FIP. Because of Tomlins’ tendency to attack the strike zone despite lacking in any plus-pitches, he tends to give up a lot of home runs, but he also rarely ever walks anyone.

Saturday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Zack Greinke (RHP)

The second matchup of the series is probably the most interesting. For one, the Diamondbacks will send their ace, Zack Greinke, to the mound. Greinke’s first season in Arizona was not great, either, but it was nothing compared to the nightmare 2016 that Shelby Miller had. Still, the Diamondbacks probably expected better than a 4.37 ERA and 23 home runs allowed when they signed Greinke to a massive $206.5 million contract last offseason.

In his first start of 2017, Greinke was pulled after five innings of work in which he allowed two earned runs off of five hits in a shade over 90 pitches. His home run issues from a year ago returned to the tune of two dingers that left Chase Field.

The Diamondbacks will also get a glimpse of their once future ace, Trevor Bauer, when he returns to face his former team for only the second time of his career — the first since he dominated over eight innings in 2014. The Indians acquired Bauer in a three-way deal prior to the 2013 season that landed Shin-Soo Choo with the Cincinnati Reds and shortstop Didi Gregorius with the Diamondbacks.

While Bauer doesn’t look like the ace Arizona dreamed him to be when they drafted him third overall in the 2011 Amateur Draft, he is turning into a solid third or fourth starter for the Tribe. It’s also easy to forget that Bauer is just 26 years old, since he’s been in the league for five years now.

Last season, Bauer pitched in a career-high 190 innings despite starting season the in the bullpen. His ERA (4.26), FIP (3.99) and walk rate (3.32) were all also career-bests.

Sunday, 4:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. Patrick Corbin (LHP)

Patrick Corbin, a 27-year-old lefty, will be making the third and final start for the Diamondbacks this series. Corbin lasted just four innings in his 2017 debut, giving up two earned runs and striking out just one batter in the Diamondbacks’ only loss to the Giants.

As of this writing, the Indians have not officially announced who will start Sunday, but it will most likely be Corey Kluber, who has already had an extra day of rest with Thursday’s travel day.

Kluber had a “bad” first outing of the season last week — he allowed five earned runs, including three homers — but he also sat down 10-straight batters at one point. Even when the Klubot is bad, the Klubot is good.

Upcoming schedule

The Indians will have another off-day Monday before returning home for their home opener against the Chicago White Sox. They will wrap up the homestand against another American League Central rival, the Detroit Tigers.

Arizona Diamondbacks roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many wins will the Indians have against the Diamondbacks

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    3
    (63 votes)
  • 62%
    2
    (154 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (25 votes)
  • 2%
    0
    (6 votes)
248 votes total Vote Now