With all the teams in contention this season, finding under-valued commodities turns into the strategy of choice for organizations which are buyers.no comments
Player of the Game
In his only at bat, Jason Giambi provided the winning margin with a solo home run and it was enough to win him the Player of the Game as well. The blast was 436th career home run, knocking himself in for career RBI 1,429.
The Indians set a new team record today when the scored in the second inning. It was the team's 16th straight game that they scored the first run. Today it was an error that allowed Asdrubal Cabrera to reach base. He later scored on a Carlos Santana sacrifice fly.
White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie didn't have a great night overall even outside of that inning. In the inning already mentioned, he had the error on a throw to first, then gave up a double to Ryan Raburn on a ball that glanced off his glove. If that wasn't bad enough, Jason Kipnis put the pressure on him in the sixth with runners at first and second with a bunt and Gillaspie missed the bare handed pick-up, loading the bases and leading to the second Indians run of the game.
As expected, Zach McAllister was much better this time around than in his previous start. He didn't allow a run until the sixth inning tonight. He did get into some trouble then as he left a few balls up in an attempt to get ahead in the count early on hitters. The White Sox took advantage with two doubles and a single to take a 2-1 lead.
Terry Francona worked some ninth inning magic, bringing in the sub-.200 hitting Jason Giambi to pinch hit for Mark Reynolds. Giambi responded by hitting a ball out past the center field fence, breaking the tie and giving the Indians another walk off win. The win is the Indians' fifth in a row and gives them 12 wins in their last 18. With the Tigers off tonight, the Indians will remove a half of a game from their deficit in the AL Central.
A couple bad calls at second base gave the White Sox two stolen bases. The first was a close play and could have went either way when Alexei Ramirez stole safely in the fourth inning. The second steal also featured Ramirez, but this time he was tagged on the hand more than a foot before he reached the base. Terry Francona, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana all argued the call, but with replay and no recourse against umpires who make obviously terrible calls, there was no change of heart.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 - Chicago White Sox 2no comments
This was a smart move in terms of value for the Tigers, but it wont make that much of difference (as adding a non-closer at the trade deadline usually is) in the standings at the end of the year.no comments
An unexpected sweep of the Texas Rangers allowed the Indians to maintain their position in the AL Central standings and they will now move on to face the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have struggled and remain dead last in the Central with a record of just 40-61. The Tigers will go on to face the Nationals, who are falling fast, so the Indians will need to at least win this series to keep up with Detroit. The good thing for Cleveland is that the pitching match-ups heavily favor the Indians, who have had tremendous starting pitching since the All-Star break. As a whole, the pitching staff has held opponents to just 1.82 runs per game since coming back from a much needed rest.
Game 1: Monday, July 29th 7:05 PM EDT
John Danks, LHP, 2-8, 4.81 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 4-6, 3.57 ERA
McAllister will be making his second start since his return from a long stay on the disabled list and will look to improve upon his last start. Against the Mariners, McAllister threw his worst game of the season to this point, but he will certainly improve on that this time around as he gets his timing back. All the Indians starters are in luck in this series as compared to the Rangers, the White Sox might as well be a AAA team.
Game 2: Tuesday, July 30th 7:05 PM EDT
Jake Peavy, RHP, 8-4, 4.28 ERA vs Scott Kazmir, LHP, 6-4, 3.96 ERA
Peavy was once a Cy Young Award winning pitcher and a man who held an sub-3.00 ERA in four out of five seasons (from '04 - '08), but that pitcher doesn't exist anymore. The current edition has struggled this year at 32 years old, but is still in high demand in the trade market, and may actually not make this start if the White Sox can work out some kind of deal. Just because he has struggled against the league, doesn't make him a push over for the Tribe. Against the Indians he has won five of his 11 starts with a 3.93 ERA and 66 strike outs. The Indians didn't face Peavy during his Padres years, so these numbers are from his recent stint with the White Sox.
Kazmir has been the Indians hottest pitcher of late, throwing great games in his last seven starts. His last game was his best of the year as he went 8 shut out innings and struck out seven. He is a prime candidate now for the AL Comeback Player of the Year and he'll look to continue his success against the Sox.
Game 3: Wednesday, July 31st 7:05 PM EDT
Jose Quintana, LHP, 5-3, 3.55 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 7-5, 3.74 ERA
Quintana has been the most successful White Sox starter against the Indians in recent days, but as the team has finally started to play better against left handers, this may be about to change. So far, Quitana has an ERA of 2.37 in six games (his second best against any team with more than one start against). Since Mark Reynolds was held out of the series against Texas, there is a chance he will get a chance to come back against this tough left hander.
Game 4: Thursday, August 1st 12:05 PM EDT
Chris Sale, RHP, 6-10, 2.69 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 12-7, 3.42 ERA
Indians fans will be treated to another outstanding pitching match-up in the finale of this series when aces collide against Chicago. Sale's record is not indicitave to his ability as the White Sox have provided him with little to no run support. Sale ranks second in the AL (behind Felix Hernandez) in pitching WAR at 5.3. It seems kind of interesting that he should be winning more than five games more than a replacement player and only has six wins on the season, but this just shows how bad the White Sox have been as a team.
The last great match-up like this went the Tribe's way when Masterson out dueled Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers, so the Indians have another shot to unseat an All-Star (who should have been the MVP of that game) as Masterson should have no problems with the Chicago offense.no comments
Player of the Game
Ubaldo Jimenez matched his season high by pitching eight shut out innings today, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out six. Jimenez also made a nice play defensively, turning a bunt single into an out. He was able to pitch deep into the game by forcing batters to get out early in the count, allowing him to remain under 100 pitches thrown entering the 8th, something that usually happens in the fifth or sixth inning for Jimenez. He was also able to pitch through this threshold without blowing up as he threw a perfect 8th inning, ending his night. His effort earned him his 8th win of the season and his POG score of 9.90 was his second best on the year.
With a walk in the fifth, Michael Bourn has now reached base in 11 consecutive game. As the lead-off hitter, his prime goal is to get on base and he has done that with regularity, becoming the spark that starts off the Indians offense. This time he was able to get to third on Nick Swisher's third single of the game and score on a bloop hit by Jason Kipnis, scoring the first run of the game. In the Indians past four games, Bourn has four runs scored and ten RBI.
Much more surprising than last night's game, Alexi Ogando and Ubaldo Jimenez combined for another spectacularly pitched affair. Ogando was pulled during the fifth inning after he allowed the game's first run on a Jason Kipnis single. Prior to that hit, he had allowed just five hits and no runs, however, for the second day in a row, the Rangers starter was outdueled by the Indians as Ubaldo Jimenez threw eight shut out innings and struck out six.
While the Indians weren't able to do much against Ogando, his early removal allowed them to do a lot of damage against the Rangers bullpen. After the fifth inning, Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles (who pinch hit for Lonnie Chisenahall) and Michael Bourn all had RBI hits to give the Indians a 6-0 lead by the time Ubaldo left the game.
In completing their first sweep against the Rangers since 1980, the Indians didn't allow a run in the final two games against the offensive juggernaut. It was the Tribe's 14th shut out of the season, which is good enough to lead the league.
The Tigers were able to come back against the Phillies, meaning the Indians will maintain the 3.5 game deficit behind Detroit for another day.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 6 - Texas Rangers 0no comments
Player of the Game
Justin Masterson wasn't able to finish the game, but he still put out one of his nicest starts of the year as he shut out the Rangers through 7.2 innings. Masterson struck out eight and allowed just eight base runners all night. The effort earned him his 12th win of the season and his 11th POG award.
Michael Bourn lead things off with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. It was the second time he lead off a game with a home run this year and was the only scored all night. In a game that saw most Indians hitters strike out twice, Bourn reached base safely in his first three at bats, adding two walks after the home run.
The pitching duel happened as expected with brilliant outings by both Justin Masterson and Yu Darvish. Darvish allowed a single run in the first inning, but only gave up two more hits all night. Darvish struck out 10 and walked four, but throwing so many pitches was costly and he was pulled after the sixth inning and 123 pitches. Masterson pitched much more efficiently, allowing him to throw into the eighth inning for the Tribe, striking out eight, while giving up just five hits.
This game was the perfect contrast to last night's game, which featured a ton of offense and bad relief pitching on both sides of the board. Tonight's match featured superb pitching all around with no great scoring chances with less than two outs for either team. In fact, the game was won offensively with the first at bat of the game for the Tribe.
It turns out that one of Texas' top relievers was unavailable for last night's game after he was knocked out. Tanner Scheppers was trying to catch meal on the street and was blindsided by a group of people. Of course, this will be the story coming out of this series, rather than the great starting pitching and late inning heroics. The situation is simply disgraceful for the city of Cleveland.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 1 - Texas Rangers 0no comments
BABIP is a skill for hitters, but it is subject to far more random outcomes than home runs rates, strikeouts, and walks. That general notion may lead one to think Santana is just getting lucky in that respect so far this season, which may very well be the case. However, a closer look at the batted ball data suggests that there is more in play in this situation than luck. His line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates are almost on par with his career average. Although he is hitting slightly more line drives and ground balls than flyballs compared to his past, the difference is not large enough to be statistically significant. What stood out to me was his Infield-fly ball (IFFB%) rate. So far this season, his IFFB% is 5.7 which is far lower than last year's rate of 11.5. Although there has not been much research done on the year-to-year correlation of IFFB%, Matt Klaassen at Fangraphs wrote this piece and concluded that pop-up rate is just as much of a skill as slugging percentage. That being said, Santana should be given just as much credit for his improved BABIP rate as any other hitter should for an improved SLG%.
Santana has improved his BABIP while returning to his pre 2012 power. Usually, an increase in BABIP means sacrificing a little bit of power. It is not as if his current power (.187 ISO) is unprecedented: he had a .207 ISO in 2010 and a .217 in 2011. However, he dropped off to .168 in 2012. It was not just his rate of home runs (6.3 percent on contact in 2011 to 4..4 percent in 2012) that dropped, but also his rate of doubles and triples on hits in play (3.5 percent in 2011, 2.6 in 2012). In 2013 so far, the rates are back to about 2011 levels: 6.3 percent for home runs, 3.3 for doubles and triples.
With all the moves the Indians made this offseason, the most significant may have been the reinvention of Carlos Santana.no comments
Player of the Game
Along with the game winning hit, Ryan Raburn took home the Player of the Game with his three run home run. Raburn also singled and scored earlier in the game as the team's DH. Along with his impressive outing, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley, Drew Stubbs and Chris Perez all finished the game with POG scores of at least 3.00.
Corey Kluber was far from perfection today, but his offense backed him up for once and he was able to leave the game with the lead. Nick Swisher started things off with a home run and the lower half of the lineup continued what he started. Of note, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles each had three hits (Aviles hit singles in four straight plate appearances) and scored two runs. Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn were the main batters to knock them in, with Stubbs recording two RBI on a single while Bourn used a fielder's choice and a single to knock in three.
Chris Perez made up for a less than stellar outing by the first three pitchers used out of the bullpen. Cody Allen, Rich Hill and Joe Smith combined to allow four runs in two innings and blow the save. Perez, however, was able to come into the tie game in the ninth and throw two perfect innings. This marked the Indian closers first appearance that lasted two innings since 2010.
Milestone Alert: Asdrubal Cabrera took advantage of extra innings to notch his third hit of the night, moving him into a tie with Casey Blake for 50th all time as an Indian with 794 hits. Cabrera has played less games than all but two of the players with more hits as an Indian.
Ryan Raburn gave the Indians their seventh walk off win of the season with a no out, three run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. Santana and Cabrera had lead the inning off with two singles before Raburn hit the blast to left off Jason Frasor
The Indians defense did not improve during the trip home as two errors in the third inning cost the Tribe another unearned run. This time Kluber made a nice grab on a liner to the mound, but threw the ball into centerfield on what should have been a double play. Instead of the inning ending when the next batter flied out, the Rangers scored their first run. On the play, Carlos Santana was not able to hold onto the ball, allowing Elvis Andrus (who was safe on the first error) to reach third.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 11 - Texas Rangers 8no comments
Much talk has occurred about the Indians starting rotation being a team weakness, because the overall stats aren't that pretty. Each of the Indians five starters (for the sake of this article, Masterson, Kluber, Jimenez, Kazmir and McAllister) has an ERA above 3.50 and all but Masterson have a WHIP over 1.20. Using WAR, the Indians starters rank 16th, 54th, 75th, 97th and 114th among American League pitchers and yet Cleveland is just 3.5 games away from a playoff spot with two months left in the season.
Statistics don't tell the whole story here however, as these undervalued starters have given the Indians a chance to win every single time out. Here is a chart that shows how the Indians starters have pitched (through ERA) during good games (at least five IP and less than four earned runs allowed) and bad games (everything else) and the team's results from those games:
|Good Starts||Bad Starts|
|Player||Team W/L||ERA||Team W/L||ERA|
*For Corey Kluber, his first relief appearance was not included, but his second, where he appeared in long relief and earned a win was. Also, his rain shortened appearance against Tampa was considered a good start despite just throwing two innings.
What is being shown isn't really that groundbreaking. Obviously, pitchers numbers will look better during games they play well than in games they play poorly. What should be noted is there are vastly more games that have been pitched well than have been pitched poorly. This shows the primary point that despite not having the greatest personal stats, these particular starters are giving the Indians the best chance to win. Overall, their team record in "good" games is 43-19, while it is just 7-17 in poor starts. If the standards are raised to throwing at least six innings to make it a good start, the overall record jumps to 36-6. This shows the overall importance of the starting pitcher going that one extra inning before turning things over to the bullpen.
The alternative to a starter who pitches fantastically in two out of every three starts and terrible in the other, is to have a starter that actually allowed his average every single game. This would actually make things more difficult for a team, like the Indians, that has trouble scoring runs. By using everything they have in one start, rather than pacing themselves, Indians starters are almost guaranteeing wins (86% of the time) when they throw six innings while allowing three or less runs. The Indians still have some chance at winning in the other starts if the offense actually shows up and scores more than four runs, but since the starters are good more than 50% of the time, they are essentially guaranteeing at least a winning record with this strategy.
Of course all this is assuming this is a strategic decision and not just a random trick of statistics that will soon go away.
Zach McAllister has been the steadiest starter to this point, with just one start qualifying as bad.no comments
Behind the strength of Scott Kazmir's best start of the season, the Indians managed to salvage one game in Seattle to go 2-4 on their first road trip after the All-Star break. While it is not the start they wanted, they are still within striking distance of Detroit. Of course, things are only going to get tougher now as the Tribe will not be facing the lowly Twins or Mariners this time around.
Game 1: Friday, July 26th 7:05 PM EDT
Martin Perez, LHP, 3-3, 3.40 ERA vs Corey Kluber, RHP, 7-5, 3.69 ERA
Perez was called up in May and will be making just his eighth start of the season against Cleveland on Friday. He has had moderate success, including a span of four games recently, where he allowed just four total runs across 25 innings. Making this even more impressive is the fact that those games came against some of the greatest offenses in baseball including the Reds, Cardinals and Orioles. Since then, however, he has not fared as well, taking two losses against the Orioles and Tigers. The Indians have the added benefit of him being left handed, which is good news for Mark Reynolds, who is on an amazing two game hitting streak (the odds of a .093 hitter getting hits in two games in a row seem insurmountable), as he is slugging almost 100 points higher against south paws than right handers. The Indians could use some slugging from their free agent DH, who has yet to have an extra base hit during July and has had just two since the start of June.
Game 2: Saturday, July 27th 7:05 PM EDT
Yu Darvish, RHP, 9-4, 2.86 ERA, vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 11-7, 3.60 ERA
This should be a game for the ages as two of the top aces in the American League will go head to head. While the numbers may favor Darvish (especially with as free swinging of a team as the Indians), Masterson will have the advantage of an extra days rest after the off day Thursday and he has been almost unbeatable while at full strength. This game should be one for the ages. Get your tickets now folks, there will only be 20,000 or so left the day of the game.
Game 3: Sunday, July 28th 1:05 PM EDT
Alexi Ogando, LHP, 4-2, 3.13 ERA vs Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 7-5, 4.49 ERA
So we meet again, old friend. Alexi Ogando may be a career 3.12 ERA pitcher, but against the Indians he's better than Cy Young. In two starts and six relief appearances against the Tribe he has went 3-0 with 16 strike outs in 21.1 innings. Also, he has allowed just two runs, giving him an ERA of 0.84 against Cleveland, his best against any team he has faced more than once. Cleveland has often struggled with Texas over the past few years and Ogando has recently become a big part of that struggle (Elvis Andrus with his .379 average, 22 RBI and hits in all 34 games he has played against the Indians is an even bigger part). Of course, the Indians can only get better against Ogando (that's a lie, they could get shut out again) and the game is going to be played in Cleveland rather than the Texas heat, so the Tribe may have a chance in this game that will likely be a blowout of Texas proportions. If you are betting on the Tribe this series, stay away from this one.no comments