Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Tampa Bay Rays

First three games are 7:10 PM starts; the Sunday game is a 1:40 PM start.

Thursday, July 8: Jake Westbrook vs. Wade Davis

Friday, July 9: Fausto Carmona vs. James Shields

Saturday, July 10: Aaron Laffey vs. Matt Garza

Sunday, July 11: Justin Masterson vs. Jeff Niemann

This is the last series before the All-Star Break, and it'd be excellent if the Rays could take advantage of this match-up and roar into the break. Despite what their record may indicate (.393 Win%), the Indians are far from a horrible team. Three of their starting pitchers - all of which we're facing this series (Masterson, Laffey, and Carmona) - have decent Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) numbers, suggesting that they have performed well despite having sub-par ERAs. Their bullpen is a weak spot, though, with no shut-down reliever standing out from the pack.

Offensively, the Indians are lacking punch right now. Shin-Soo Choo, Russell Branyan, and Grady Sizemore were the big cogs of the Indians' offensive, but Branyan was recently traded, Choo is on the disabled list, and Sizemore had surgery in early June and is out for the rest of the season. Right now, the only big bat to worry about on their team is rookie sensation Carlos Santana. Santana is tearing up the league, posting insane numbers like a .309 ISO, 1.014 OPS, and a .431 wOBA in 102 plate appearances.

This won't be an easy series, but the Indians also shouldn't be as tough as the Red Sox. Let's take three of four and go into the break riding high.

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