Before you have a mild panic attack seeing “San Diego” on the schedule, just know that this is a home series for the Cleveland Indians. No West Coast trip here. No awful National League rules, no games that start at 10 at night and don’t end until well into the next morning, making you want to quit baseball forever.
None of that here. Instead, the Tribe will be facing the San Diego Padres at home for the first time since 2014. They’ll be sending out two of their best pitchers in Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer (yeah I said it), and Josh Tomlin will also be there. The Padres will counter with Trevor Cahill and a groundball wizard.
It seems like just yesterday the Padres front office was buying every free agent in town and swinging any deals they could to build a winner. They had an outfield of Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, they looked poised to compete, and then 2015 happened. Then 2016 happened. Now 2017 is happening and it isn’t getting better. They currently sit fourth in the competitive National League West, only avoiding the last spot in the division because the San Francisco Giants exist and are terrible.
Weather shouldn’t be an issue for the first two games, though storms may linger on Thursday. If you ask anyone from San Diego, they’ll be quick to tell how much better the weather is there, though.
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Cahill (RHP) vs. Corey Kluber (RHP)
Trevor Cahill was on pace for perhaps his best season ever through seven starts. Then his shoulder starting acting up, and he hasn’t pitched since. If he returns to form — the one with 19.7 percent strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.27 ERA, and 3.00 FIP — we might be in for the best Independence Day duel since Will Smith punched that alien. At least if both teams can prevent giving home runs we can go a single Fourth of July without hearing about “fireworks” after a home run.
On the mound opposite Cahill, will be Tribe ace Corey Kluber. The Klubot has struck out double-digit batters in each of his last four outings for a total of 46 whiffs. On the season, he has struck out a third of the batters he has faced, which would beat his career strikeout mark by nearly 10 percent. And that includes a month of fighting injuries and being just generally mediocre.
Oh, and the Padres have struck out in 25.7 percent of their at-bats this season — most of any team in either league. Buckle up.
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Luis Perdomo (RHP) vs. Trevor Bauer (RHP)
Overall, Luis Perdomo has had a fine rookie campaign, but nothing to get too excited about. His 4.71 ERA and 4.36 are right along what he had in the higher levels of the minors, though his 19.3 percent strikeout rate is a noticeable bump from his Triple-A marks. But one thing about Perdomo stands out: His ability to induce groundballs.
Among pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched in 2017 (just shy of being qualified for leaderboards), only Dallas Keuchel and Alex Wood have a higher groundball rate than Perdomo’s 65.4 percent. The one difference you’ll notice between those two and Perdomo, besides the earned run average, is that the Padres starter gives up a little over a home run per nine innings, while Keuchel and Wood give up 0.71 and 0.24 per nine, respectively.
Brook’s utilizes a fourseam, sinker, curve combination, according to Brook’s Baseball. His sinker is especially good at inducing groundballs, doing so 70 percent of the time. Again according to Brook’s Baseball, of the 12 fourseamers that Perdomo threw in June, every single one went as a groundball, which is kind of incredible.
Trevor Bauer is another pitcher who is good at keeping the ball on the ground (47.9 percent this season), but he gives up far to many home runs on his bad days. Like Kluber, Bauer is experiencing a strikeout renaissance, with his 25.7 percent strikeout rate on pace to set a new career-high. Bauer is coming off a 6.1 inning win against the Texas Rangers in which he only struck out three batters, but he held his opponents to just four hits and one earned run. A home run, naturally.
Thursday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Dinelson Lamet (RHP) vs. Josh Tomlin (RHP)
Dinelson Lamet was a top-10 Padres prospect coming into the season, according to MLB Pipeline, and so far he looks like he has the stuff of one. He has a 32.1 percent strikeout rate and 7.1 percent walk rate in seven starts, yet his ERA and FIP are both high at 5.35 and 4.31, respectively. So, what gives?
Dingers. Dingers give.
Lamet has given up almost two home runs per game and he has struggled to keep the ball on the ground with a 36.6 percent groundball rate. He showed off his best stuff in his last start against the Atlanta Braves, striking out eight over seven shutout innings. But when he’s having an off day he’ll frequently miss the zone and serve up some meatballs. Basically, he’s Josh Tomlin with stuff but less control.
Speaking of which, Josh Tomlin is here everybody. It’s been a while since Tomlin had a quality start. Both in terms of the literal definition (6 IP, 3 ER or fewer) and the eye test of what looks like quality. His last literal quality start came on June 2 against the Kansas City Royals when he allowed three runs over 7.1 innings. But even then he allowed nine hits an didn’t strike anyone out. It was far from a quality outing.
Where in the world is Ryan Schimpf?
Normally these storylines are meant to be the Indians stories heading into the series, but this one is important. Listen, I have this holographic Ryan Schimpf card that I was hoping could be sold to get my kids through college, but now he’s looking like Michael Martinez at the plate. Well, that’s not true. Even with a .158/.284/.424 slash, his 88 wRC+ is leagues better than anything MM could dream of. But still, Schimpf was supposed to be great for the Padres — what happened?
Any lineup changes?
The Indians have run with a pretty consistent lineup lately. It always has Bradley Zimmer, which is great, but it also has two of the team’s worst hitters (right now) in Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor at the top of the order. Meanwhile, Jose Ramirez is batting fifth and it’s kind of confusing. I am well in the camp of “batting order doesn’t really matter,” but it’ll be interesting to see if Tito wants a change, or just keeps riding what has worked.
San Diego Padres roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Padres?
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