The Indians made some moves before this series because Carlos Carrasco will be returning from his injury on Wednesday. Jeanmar Gomez has been sent back down to AAA Columbus, showing that the team was more impressed by Alex White in two starts than they were by Gomez in four appearances. For the short term, Frank Herrman will be brought up just for Tuesday's game to provide some relief depth, then will be sent down tomorrow for Carrasco. Here are the projected starters for the upcoming series against Tampa Bay:
Josh Tomlin (4-1, 2.43 ERA) v. Andy Sonnanstine (0-0, 2.19 ERA)
Tomlin has been surprisingly great to this point in the season, and is statistically the second best pitcher on the Indians right now, behind Justin Masterson. The biggest reason behind Tomlin's success has been the fact that nobody can get on base against him (0.81 WHIP). Tomlin has given up less hits than any other Indians pitcher with more than 2 starts, including Gomez, who has pitched 22 less innings. His one problem is that when he does give up a hit, it leaves the park. Tomlin has given up 7 home runs out of his 25 hits allowed.
Andy Sonnanstine will be making his first start of the season for the Rays after making 6 relief appearances so far in 2011. Andy was a starter from 2008-2009, but was moved into a relief role last season and remained there until today against the Tribe. This is a spot start in place for the injurred Jeff Niemann who will probably miss three weeks.
Carlos Carrasco (1-1, 4.97 ERA) v. David Price (4-3, 3.26 ERA)
Carlos is returning to the Indians after missing two starts due to an elbow injury. Carrasco pitched one rehab start in AA Akron and pitched poorly, but management was only worried about his health. He allowed 4 runs in 3.2 innings pitched, which was much worse than his Major League stats this season of a 4.97 in 29 innings pitched. The majority of Carrasco's problems this season were in his first game, where he gave up 7 runs in 6.2 innings and in the game he was injurred in and was only able to pitch 3 innings. With these problems behind him, hopefully Carlos will be able to pitch as well as he did in his other 3 starts this season and the 7 he made in 2010.
David Price is some kind of rediculous. Last season Price went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and he has started well again this season, averaging 7 IP per start and striking out 7.3 batters per 9 innings pitched. The Rays ace is very young (25) and looks to be the foundation of their pitching staff for years to come.
Justin Masterson (5-0, 2.11 ERA) v. James Shields (3-1, 2.01 ERA)
Justin has been the Indians ace to this point in the season with a perfect 5-0 win loss record. Masterson leads the Indians in wins and ERA, and is second in strike outs (34) and WHIP (1.17). He will look to remain perfect against the Rays, trying to use the Indians outstanding play at home to increase his record to 6-0.
James Shields has been the Rays best pitcher so far, just as Masterson has been the Indians. Shields leads Tampa in ERA (2.01), complete games (2), shut outs (1), IP (53.2), strike outs (44) and WHIP (0.93). This game looks to be the most like those the Indians played in Anaheim and Oakland, a low scoring, close pitchers duel.
The Rays are currently in second place in the American League East (20-14), but they have been without the services of All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria for the majority of that time. Longoria played the first two games of the season, then was stuck on the DL until until last week. He is a huge part of the Rays offense and is now hitting third, between Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce. Ben Zobrist has been playing over his head without Longria in the lineup, knocking in 25 RBI with 21 extra-base hits, including 7 home runs. Zobrist leads all Rays in these catagories.
The Indians have won 13 games in a row at home, a winning streak that goes back to game 3 of the season. The split stats between home and away are astounding, the biggest being the 27 the Indians have hit in Cleveland compared to the 8 they have hit everywhere else. They have played three less games at home and still scored 21 more runs at home. Hopefully the Tribe can keep this up, and maybe even increase their production as the weather heats up. Since the Indians have only been playing .500 ball on the road (9-9) it is very important to win at home if they want to stay on top of the division.