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Cleveland Indians II: Baby Boogaloo

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On May 29, 2009 @ 6:14 pm In Cliff Corcoran,Game Thread,Series Preview | Comments Disabled

The Indians helped open the new Yankee Stadium last month, and while their 22-run outburst in the third game of that inaugural series (most of the runs coming off Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett) is what sticks in the mind, they only managed a split of the series. In fact, the Indians had not won more than two games in a row prior to their just-completed four-game sweep of the Rays in Cleveland. When the week started, they were 17-28 and 8.5 games out of first place in the American League Central.

Things just aren’t going well for the Tribe. Travis Hafner is back on the disabled list. Grady Sizemore his hitting just .223/.313/.411 and is now DHing due to a sore right elbow that could soon land him on the DL. Since leaving the Bronx, they’ve turned over more than half of their bullpen, restocking with veteran retreads including Matt Herges, Tomo Ohka, and former Yankee Luis Vizcaino, and two fifths of their starting rotation has landed on the DL, with Anthony Reyes possibly out for the year.

Still, that sweep of the Rays was encouraging, and despite the injuries to Hafner and Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta’s power outage (.342 slugging, one homer), they’re third in the AL in runs scored per game. That’s due in large part to a tremendous comeback season from Victor Martinez (.359/.434/.557), a nice rebound by Asdrubal Cabrera (.321/.385/.439, seven steals in eight attempts), and a strong showing from right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (.289/.408/.457). They’re also benefiting from the fact that their non-stars (including Cabrera) are performing at or around league average, preventing any drains on the lineup beyond those being created by Sizemore, Hafner, and Peralta, the last of whom is at least getting on base more than a third of the time.

Their real problem has been pitching. Their starting rotation has a 5.70 ERA, better than only the Phillies’ among the thirty major league teams. Their bullpen as been a bit better, but still ranks ahead of the relief units of just four American League teams. Amazingly, Carl Pavano, who will face Phil Hughes on Sunday, is one of the three Cleveland starters who hasn’t hit the disabled list. After a rough start, Pavano has pitched well over his last six starts (5-1, 3.58 ERA), and Cliff Lee, who faces Andy Pettitte tonight, is leading the staff with a 3.04 ERA, but Fausto Carmona, who faces CC Sabathia tomorrow, is pitching like 2008 all over again (6.42 ERA, more walks than strikeouts), and the back-end of the rotation is halfway between a mystery and a horrorshow. Meanwhile, Kerry Wood is closing like Joe Borowski, converting eight of ten save opportunities, but with a scary 6.35 ERA, and the team’s sub-par defense isn’t helping matters.

Getting back to tonight’s starters. Lee is also pitching like it’s 2008, posting a 1.86 ERA with a 4.33 K/BB ratio over his last eight starts. However, he’s not getting any run support. The Indians have scored zero or one runs in five of his ten starts, are averaging 2.87 runs per game for him, and have gone just 2-8 in his starts, though one of those wins came at Yankee Stadium in the only game this season in which Lee has received more than five runs of support. The Yankees, meanwhile, are 7-2 in Andy Pettitte’s stars despite his comparitively inflated 4.30 ERA. Over his last five starts, Pettitte has compiled a 5.46 ERA, but the Yanks and their AL-leading offense have still gone 4-1 in those games and scored six runs in the one they lost.

Meanwhile, Jorge Posada’s back, catching, and batting sixth, making the league’s best offense that much better. Kevin Cash is in Scranton. Brett Gardner is in center for the still achy Melky Cabrera, and the bottom third of the order is now Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher, and Gardner. Not bad at all.

Cleveland Indians

2009 Record: 20-28 (.417)
2009 Pythagorean Record: 23-25 (.479)

Manager: Eric Wedge
General Manager: Mark Shapiro

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Progressive Field (103/102)

Who’s Replaced Whom:

  • Luis Valbuena (minors) has replaced Travis Hafner (DL)
  • Jamey Carroll (DL) has replaced Tony Graffanino (minors)
  • David Huff (minors) and Jeremy Sowers (minors) have replaced Anthony Reyes (DL) and Aaron Laffey (DL)
  • Matt Herges, Luis Vizcaino, Greg Aquino, and Tomo Ohka have replaced Joe Smith (DL), Masahide Kobayashi (minors), Vinnie Chulk (minors), and Zach Jackson (minors)

25-man Roster:

1B – Ryan Garko (R)
2B – Luis Valbuena (L)
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera (S)
3B – Jhonny Peralta (R)
C – Victor Martinez (S)
RF – Shin-Soo Choo (L)
CF – Ben Francisco (R)
LF – Mark DeRosa (R)
DH – Grady Sizemore (L)


R – Kelly Shoppach (C)
R – Jamey Carroll (IF)
S – Trevor Crowe (OF)


L – Cliff Lee
R – Fausto Carmona
R – Carl Pavano
L – Jeremy Sowers
L – David Huff


R – Kerry Wood
R – Rafael Betancourt
R – Jensen Lewis
L – Rafael Perez
R – Matt Herges
R – Luis Vizcaino
R – Greg Aquino
R – Tomo Ohka

15-day DL: DH – Travis Hafner (shoulder fatigue), LHP – Aaron Laffey (oblique), RHP – Joe Smith (rotator cuff)
60-day DL: RHP – Jake Westbrook (TJ), LHP – Scott Lewis (forearm strain), RHP – Anthony Reyes (elbow inflammation)

Typical Lineup:

S – Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
L – Grady Sizemore (DH)
S – Victor Martinez (C)
L – Shin-Soo Choo (RF)
R – Jhonny Peralta (3B)
R – Mark DeRosa (LF)
R – Ryan Garko (1B)
R – Ben Francisco (CF)
L – Luis Valbuena (2B)

Note: Luis Valbuena and Jamey Carroll are splitting time at second base; Victor Martinez is splitting his time between catcher and first base, thus putting Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Garko in a complex job-share.

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