Since I previewed the wrong pitcher last week (Francisco Liriano for the Twins when they actually started Brian Duensing) I will take a few extra precautions in this weeks preview. Of course the trade deadline is tomorrow so we will know by the end of the first game of the series if either team will be making any more moves.
Derek Lowe has continued on his path to retirement as so far in July he has given up 19 runs in 21 innings. He will almost certainly make this start but the rest of his season is in jeopardy. If he can somehow manage to decrease his monthly ERA from 8.14 to somewhere near 6.75 he could earn himself another start or two in the rotation. If the Indians do pull the trigger on a big name trade and bring in two starters, Lowe would be the second man out of the rotation after Josh Tomlin. Josh Johnson would be a fantastic pick up, even better than Zach Greinke was for the Angels as he is under control for more than this year.
Hochevar started the year pitching against the Tribe in two very different outings. Two of his first four starts came against the Indians and in the first game he was shown an early exit, allowing 7 runs on 9 hits through just four innings. His second start was the complete opposite as he threw 6.1 and just allowed two runs. He has pitched many times against Cleveland (13 starts) and the results have been more like the first game in general (5-8, 5.57 ERA against CLE) than the second.
The new Indians ace will do his best to salvage the season as he goes up against a pitcher that could be considered the Royals best. McAllister continues his great rookie season as he has yet to have a bad start (only bad offensive support behind him). Mendoza has the best ERA out of the current Royals rotation, but that isn't saying much as they have struggled all year with starting pitching, possibly even more than the Indians have.
The Indians are unlikely to make a huge move at this point, but they have been rumored in the discussions of James Shields and there has been talks within the team about the immediate demotion of Josh Tomlin. They are basically waiting to see if a deal is made, in which case the new pitcher would certainly take Tomlin's spot in the rotation. If a deal is not made there is still no guarantee that Tomlin will make this start as he was absolutely obliterated in his last game against the Twins. Corey Kluber (a September call-up from 2011) and Chris Seddon will likely be the first selections if the Indians decide to bring someone up from AAA.
The Royals just picked up former Indians farm hand Jeremy Guthrie, but he doesn't really fit the style of their team so he could possibly be moved again before the trade deadline in order to pick up some more talent for their run at the Central that always seems to be three years in the future. Odorizzi is a young stud that Royals fans can't wait to see, so why not bring him up now and give him a couple month head start on 2013.
This series preview has been a "stick your head in the sand" version of a normal series preview. Burning River Baseball will reassess the season more realistically after the series with the Royals and tell you if it's worth sticking around for.