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Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays series preview

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The Tribe returns home for the first time since before the All-Star Break and hopefully they play better than they just did on the road.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians just finished up what can only be considered a horrendous road trip out west by taking 1-5 from the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.

Now, they return home to Progressive Field to take on a much better (okay, not much better, but it’s hard to be worse than the two teams that the Tribe just faced) team in the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto has just finished losing two out of three in Detroit as well as two out of four in Boston, so they are looking for a series win just as much as the Indians are.

After this series, the Indians will have a makeup game with the Cincinnati Reds followed by a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels while the Blue Jays will head back home to welcome the formidable Oakland Athletics.

Pitching matchups

Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Marco Estrada (RHP) vs. Trevor Bauer (RHP)

Friday night’s game will feature a pair of struggling pitchers who will hope to turn their season around.

Toronto’s Marco Estrada has struggled all season long and has been a disappointment after his All-Star season a year ago. After back-to-back incredible seasons, Estrada is struggling to find success in 2017. In the 104.2 innings he’s’ pitched so far, he’s allowed 62 earned runs while walking 43 and striking out 115 (good for an ERA+ of 86). His most recent start came on July 16 in Detroit where he couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, going just 3.2 innings and giving up four earned runs on five hits while walking four and striking out five.

On the other side of things, Trevor Bauer is going to do his best to win a baseball game as well as win back some fans that he’s most likely lost this season due to his inconsistency on the mound. The 26-year-old has really struggled in 2017. In the 93.1 innings pitched, he’s allowed 58 earned runs while walking 37 and striking out 105 (good for an ERA+ of 83). In his only start since the All-Star break, Bauer didn’t do his team any favors by only going 0.2 innings on July 16 against the Athletics, a game in which he gave up four earned runs on three hits while walking three and striking out two (yes, all in two-thirds of an inning).

Saturday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Marcus Stroman (RHP) vs. Danny Salazar (RHP)

Welcome back, Danny! To welcome you back, you’ll be facing Toronto’s best pitcher in 2017.

After a middling 2016, Marcus Stroman has emerged as the ace of the Toronto staff this year. In 119.0 innings pitched, Stroman has allowed just 41 earned runs while walking 32 and striking out 98 (good for an ERA+ of 147). He opened up the second half of the season with a dominant outing against the Boston Red Sox on July 17 where he threw 6.2 innings of shutout baseball while allowing just five hits and three walks while striking out five.

Danny Salazar will make his first start for Cleveland since June 3. Salazar’s season to this point has been riddled with inconsistency, sub-par results, and injury. He’s been recovering from soreness in his right shoulder, so it will be interesting to see how he does now that his supposed injury is behind him. In 2017 thus far, Salazar has thrown just 55.0 innings and has allowed 33 earned runs while walking 28 and striking out 77 (good for an ERA+ of 86).

For what it’s worth, Salazar’s last rehab start in Triple-A Columbus did go well against the Toledo Mud Hens where he went 6.0 shutout innings while giving up three hits and walking three while striking out nine. Getting a healthy, effective Danny Salazar back into the rotation could be huge for the Cleveland Indians going forward, so Saturday’s game will be a big one for the team and could really be used as an indicator of what trades the team may look to make in the coming days.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. ET: J.A. Happ (LHP) vs. Corey Kluber (RHP)/Josh Tomlin (RHP)

J.A. Happ, while not as effective as he was in 2016, is having a great season in 2017 as well, albeit in much fewer innings. The 34-year-old battled through some elbow inflammation earlier this season, which is why he has only thrown 66.0 innings so far. However, in that time frame, he has allowed 26 earned runs while walking 16 and striking out 62 (good for an ERA+ of 129). He’s made one start since the All-Star break against the Boston Red Sox, and in that game Happ went 5.0 innings and allowed just two earned runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two.

According to Tito, Sunday’s game will be pitched by either Corey Kluber (who will miss his start on Friday due to a stiff neck) or Josh Tomlin. For the sake of this article, I’m going to hope that it’s Kluber pitching and not El Vaquerito. Kluber went 7.1 innings against the Oakland Athletics on July 15 and gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 0 and striking out 12. Please pitch Cleveland to victory on Sunday, Klubot.

Storylines

Winning at home at all

The narrative for the Cleveland Indians for a majority of this season was that they were inexplicably better on the road than at Progressive Field. After this week’s road trip, I’m wondering if the ballpark they are playing at really matters at all. With that being said, the Indians are currently 21-24 when playing at Progressive Field. With a struggling Toronto team coming to town, you would think that Cleveland could get to work on their home record and take the series. However, after seeing the team play this past week, I’m not so sure that that’s a sure thing.

The return of Danny Salazar

The state of the Cleveland Indians rotation currently is as follows: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, oh dear lord why, please make it stop. We’ve seen Danny Salazar have flashes of brilliance in his young career, but we’ve also seen him derailed by injury and consistency issues on more than one occasion. A healthy, effective Danny Salazar will suddenly lengthen the rotation significantly, making Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin starts a bit more bearable.

Is Francisco Lindor bouncing back?

Our resident All-Star shortstop is having a rough year. For the first time in his young career, his batting average on the season dipped below .250 last week before he began seeing the ball again and hitting the cover off of it. Over his last 41 plate appearances, Lindor owns a slash line of .316/.366/.447, which is much better than his current overall line of .257/.316/.456. A good amount of Lindor’s value stems from his stellar defense, but his offense has also evolved into a key component of his game, so it will be important for both him and the Indians for it to return in force. Plus, baseball was much more fun when Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor were virtually tied for a bunch of stats.

Toronto Blue Jays roster

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Blue Jays?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    3
    (14 votes)
  • 39%
    2
    (37 votes)
  • 29%
    1
    (27 votes)
  • 16%
    0
    (15 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now