Which team will the Rays face this weekend at Progressive Field? The team whose starters were knocked around in starting the year 8-13? The team that had all cylinders firing at once going 18-4 to push their record to 26-17? Or the team that found ways to lose on a nightly basis in losing 8 of their last 11 to fall to 28-24 on the year?
The Indians offense has been streaky this season and has been in a minor slump for the last 2 weeks but overall they still rank high in several offensive categories in the AL including 3rd in runs per game (4.94), 2nd in HR (67), 4th in batting average (.262), 2nd in SLG% (.447), and 2nd in OPS (.779). Mark Reynolds has been a big surprise this season leading the team with 13 homers. Carlos Santana has cooled off somewhat but still has an OPS of .908.
Since the two teams last met several changes have been made to the Indians roster. Lou Marson who was bulled over at home plate by Desmond Jennings has landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and has been replaced by Yan Gomes who was acquired along with Mike Aviles from the Toronto Blue Jays over the winter for Esmil Rogers. Gomes has been a pleasant surprise posting a slash line of .292/.309/.631 with 5 home runs in 68 plate appearances.
Jason Giambi was on the disabled list when the two teams met and since coming off the disabled list he's put up a slash line of .185/.267/.431 with 4 HR and 16 RBI in 75 plate appearances. He has been able to hit well with runners in scoring position and is just now coming out of an 0 for 23 stretch.
Lonnie Chisenhall's struggles landed him back in Triple-A Columbus and since his demotion on May 13th the Indians have been using a 8 man bullpen - and at times 8 hasn't been enough.
Their bullpen has fallen apart over the last few weeks. Closer Chris Perez has landed on the disabled list with some sort of impingement in his throwing shoulder. Vinnie Pestano was on the disabled list and has been inserted in the closers role but has been unable to find his velocity which is a concern to many.
How bad has the bullpen been? Over the last two weeks they have an ERA of 7.46 (34 earned runs in 41 innings of work). The table below shows how bad the pen has been over the past two weeks.
|* No Longer On Roster||
As inconsistent as the offense has been and as unreliable as the bullpen has been the Indians starting pitching has held together nicely over the last 30-days while facing formidable opponents. Over the last 30-days the Indians starters have the 2nd lowest ERA (3.79) and the 3rd lowest FIP (3.90) in the American League. The table below shows the numbers for the Indians starters over the past 30 days.
The Rays vs Corey Kluber
Kluber has been filling in for injured starter Brett Myers and has had his ups and downs but has pitched much better of late.
After a drubbing at the hands of the Tigers on May 10th where he gave up 8ER in 4.2 IP and only struck out 4 and walked 2 he has had three very effective outings.
His next start against the Phillies he went 6 innings allowing 3ER and struck out 5 walked 0. In a rematch against he Tigers he gave up 3ER in 6.1 IP and struck out 8 walked 0. His last outing against the Red Sox and he went 6.2 IP allowing 1ER striking out 10 walking 1.
|Data from Brooksbaseball.net|
Rays Vs Ubaldo Jimenez
Although Ubaldo Jimenez has a long track record I am going to focus on what he has done in a smaller sample size of the month of May since he has been working on a new process with Tito Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway. In his last 7 starts dating back to April 21 Jimenez has gone 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA striking out 42 and walking 16 in 39.2 innings of work. The only hiccup in that body of work came against the Detroit Tigers who lit him up for 6 earned runs in 4 innings of work. Although he may never be the Ubaldo Jimenez that was at one time 15-1 he has seen a return to the serviceable pitcher which is a long way from where he was during the 2nd half of 2011 and the early part of April this year.
|Ubaldo Jimenez In May|
|Data From Brooksbaseball.net|
Rays vs Zach McAllister
McAllister faced the Rays in St. Pete on April 5th and allowed 4R/2ER in 6 innings striking out 3 and walking 0. On the season he is 4-4 with a 3.08 ERA but he is outperforming his FIP (4.10) by over a run. His last start came against the Cincinnati Reds working 5.1 innings allowing 3R/ER on 10 hits striking out 6 and walking 1 in taking the loss in a 8-2 drubbing by the Reds.
McAllister will attack with a fourseam fastball that has downward movement and look to generate groundballs. He has a tendency to lose the strike zone and elevate the fastball resulting in home runs.
|Zach McAllister 2013|
|Data from Brooksbaseball.net|