The Indians won their series in St. Louis on the strength of their starting pitching. This comes as a surprise as most of the starters have struggled of late, but at least for the last three games, they played magnificently. Ubaldo Jimenez ended the series with his most dominant start of the season. Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin were also successful as no starting pitcher allowed more than two runs. They will now go on to face Cincinnati at the Great American Ballpark, one of the most power friendly stadiums in the Majors.
The Reds have been slightly successful offensively this year and the majority of their scoring has come from their stellar trio, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Their success (currently tied for first in the NL Central) has come from a variety of factors. In fact they are built slightly like the Indians with sufficient starting pitching, a strong group of middle of the lineup hittings and an excellent bullpen. Their closer, Aroldis Chapman, seems to have finally gotten his delivery under control and has been absolutely dominating all year. Even though he has blown two saves he has an ERA of 0.87 and 55 strike outs in 31 innings.
Over his last three starts, Gomez has pitched 15.2 innings and allowed a 9.77 ERA. This comes after a pretty strong start to the season. In those last three starts Gomez allowed a total of 17 runs, while he has only allowed 32 all season. A positive note is that all three starts came against Central Division teams that have seen Gomez at least a couple of times each. He has never faced the Reds before and may be able to take them by surprise.
Cueto is the Reds ace and leads the team in wins, ERA, innings pitched and WHIP. He was always projected to be this dominant and now he is. In fact, he has only had two bad games all season, both of which have occurred recently against the Rockies and Braves. All three of his losses happened in May when he was 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA after going 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA in April.
Lowe's last start was a bad one as he was destroyed by the Tigers for 7 runs in 5 innings. Two starts before that he was beaten by the White Sox when he allowed 8 runs in 2.1 innings. If this every other time out pattern continues, he should pitch very well tonight, but look out next time. Some of this scoring had to do with bad luck as he was getting ground balls against the Tigers, they just weren't finding gloves. If he can continue to keep his sinker down, the odds will work back in his favor and he should be successful most of the time as the season goes on.
Mike Leake looks a lot like Bill Schultz. Like Schultz, he regularly puts out a very average performance without playing too well or too poorly in any particular game. His last two games were two of his strongest this season as he went into the 7th in both, but he still allowed 4 runs in the game against division leading Pittsburgh.
June 14th, 12:35 PM EST: Josh Tomlin, RHP, 3-3, 4.96 ERA vs Mat Latos, RHP, 4-2. 4.85 ERA
Tomlin pitched in the first win against the Cardinals in the last season and will look to build on that success. He allowed just 2 runs on 8 hits and most importantly, didn't allow a home run to Carlos Beltran (or anyone else for that matter). In order for him to maintain this level of play and be a more important part of the Indians starting rotation, Tomlin will need to keep the ball down and inside the ballpark when he faces Cincinnati.
Latos was considered the Reds ace going into the season, but quickly removed himself from that role as he posted a 5.97 ERA during April. He has pitched two games this season where he didn't allow a run, but more often his results have not been as pleasant. In two recent games he allowed 5 home runs to Colorado in 7.1 as part of a record setting day for the two teams and he allowed 7 runs to Houston. Latos has never pitched against Cleveland as he had been part of the Padres prior to this season.