Cleveland Indians (7-10) at Chicago White Sox (7-11)
Series 7, Games 18, 19 and 20
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago: 0.827*, Extreme pitchers park.
The Indians will play the White Sox for the second series this season. The first series was very entertaining and I expect this one to be the same.
Slugger Adam Dunn has certainly struggled this season so far. He is batting just .098 this season and has played in all but one game, when he was held out during an inter league game at Washington with the DH spot unavailable. He has two home runs and five RBIs with a .213 slugging percentage and a .154 on-base percentage over his first 16 games.
Dayan Viciedo was diagnosed with a left oblique strain was put on the disabled-list on April 20th. He injured himself on a swing Thursday night at Toronto and was immediately removed from the game. It didn't look serious, although he was wincing in pain immediately after he was removed from the game. The left fielder was batting .229 with a .417 slugging percentage over his first 14 games, hitting two home runs with five RBIs.
Despite a 7-11 record to start the season, I believe the White Sox will eventually win the division. This is another chance for the Indians to prove they belong in the race.
Prediction: Indians lose series 2-1. Justin Masterson pitches a masterpiece and out duals Dylan Axelrod for the only series victory.
Monday, April 22 8:10 EDT (STO)
Justin Masterson (3-1, 1.67 ERA) vs. Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.70 ERA)
In what would be considered a disappointing start this season, Masterson allowed four runs over five innings and was the losing pitcher Wednesday against the Red Sox. He gave up 11 hits while walking one and striking out five. After allowing just one run over his first 22 innings of work this season Masterson was "hit around" as the Red Sox were able to put three runs on the board in the first inning. His ERA on the season now stands at 1.67 to go along with 25 strikeouts and nine walks.Axelrod, who is getting the start in place of the injured John Danks, will get his chance to finally prove that he belongs in the big leagues as a starting pitcher. San Diego drafted him in the 30th round in 2007 out of Cal Irvine, where he was a reliever. The Sox signed him out of the Frontier League and converted him into a starter and he has flourished. His stuff is average at best, but he has fantastic control and knows how to pitch. Axelrod posted a BB/9 of 1.1 in 2010 between high-A and AA and followed that up with a 2.1 BB/9 mark in 2011 between AA and AAA. Last season, he earned a 7.06 K/9 pitching both out of the bullpen and starting rotation for the Sox. Despite low walk numbers and low ERA's, Axelrod didn't get any attention until he had a strong September call-up with the Sox in 2011 (2.89 ERA, 19 K, 9 BB in 18.2 IP).
Tuesday, April 23, 8:10EDT (STO)
Zach McAllister (1-2, 3.12 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (L) (1-0, 2.55 ERA)
Quintana had a very good start against the Indians on April 12 which he lost because the Sox did not score any runs off Justin Masterson to support their starting pitcher. It took a ninth inning game winning single from Nick Swisher to break the 0-0 tie and win the game.
Throughout his career, Quintana has displayed a ground ball tendency and pretty strong control. His minor league history also showed solid strikeout rates. His fastball velocity isn’t great at 90.4 miles per hour, but acceptable for a lefty, and is likely a good reason why he only throws it a bit more than 50% of the time. In the start against the Indians and his subsequent start against Toronto, he started to mix in his curve-ball more. After throwing it an average of 15% of the time both in the minors and majors, he has thrown it an average of 22% in his last two starts. It's too early to tell if this is a new trend from him or not.
Wednesday, April 24, 2:10EDT (STO)
Corey Kluber (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (L) (1-2, 4.50 ERA)
A multitude of events are the reason why Corey Kluber will get his first start of the year on Wednesday. Personally, I favored Kluber from spring training to win a spot in the rotation. He has fantastic stuff with very good movement on his breaking balls. Because he has deep pitching selection, he is best suited for the starting rotation as opposed to the bullpen.