Second Thoughts Game #59: Indians 4, Yankees 6
Indians once again can't climb out of early hole created by starters
The Indians entered their Wednesday game against the Yankees 4-11 in their last fifteen games and needing a win to avoid getting swept. To do that, they would send Corey Kluber to the mound. Kluber entered the game with 21 strikeouts in his last 15 innings of work, giving up only four runs in that time span.
The Whole Nine
1. In almost all respects, this was an extremely disappointing series for the Indians. The starting pitchers struggled in particular, with Masterson, Kazmir, and Kluber giving up 17 runs (15 earned) in the three games. Kluber would rebound from a rough start to give the team six innings, but he continues to struggle with the long ball, giving up two more in this game. It’s been the one black mark on his performance this year.
2. On the other hand, Kluber’s strikeout rate continues to rise and his K/BB rate is the best of all the starting pitchers. Kluber’s emergence combined with Ubaldo Jimenez’s re-emergence is going to be a big storyline the rest of the season. If they continue to pitch well, the trio of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Corey Kluber is going to keep this team in the mix. That’s to say nothing for Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir, who like Kluber, has peripheral numbers that show he’s better than his ERA reflects. This series was disappointing, but the Indians starting rotation still looks strong and that’s a big piece to the puzzle.
3. It’s time to make note of just how good Kluber’s secondary stuff is. The movement on his curveball and slider is tremendous, and best of all he can locate both and it’s leading to a large number of swings and misses. His slider in particular has been nearly unhittable. Opponents are managing just a .174 batting average against his slider.
4. Some final May numbers:
A rough month for two guys who are being counted on to produce runs in the middle of the Indians lineup. So far, June hasn’t fared much better.
5. Considering Chris Perez’s legal problems mixed in with his on-the-mound problems, it looks like Vinnie Pestano could be the closer for a while. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but if he pitches like he did in this game they might as well just keep him in that role. It’s becoming increasingly harder to see Perez being on this team next year. If Pestano shows his stuff is back, and that he can close, I say let him have the job moving forward.
6. In my Second Thoughts article from last week, I wrote about the Indians needing to find other options for left-handed relief. Scott Barnes had a disastrous outing earlier this week and was sent back to the minors, while Nick Hagadone has looked better in his appearances this week. On the other hand, nothing has changed with Rich Hill. Hill appeared in this game after giving up six runs in 1.2 innings over the past week. I wouldn’t say he was BAD in this game, but his control is awful and that’s not going to change. I’m not sure why, in any situation, he’s being brought in to face guys like Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner. We need a different option for that role.
7. In the past seven games, Yan Gomes has started five times at catcher. While it’s fairly obvious at this point he won’t be going to AAA in favor of Lou Marson, the question is starting to become just how much of Carlos Santana’s time behind the plate he’s going to take. If Chisenhall comes back onto the roster, there are only so many at-bats at first base and DH between Swisher, Reynolds, and Santana.
8. Speaking of Chisenhall, count me as one person who’s ready to see him come back up. Sure, he’s got a 1.190 OPS in 81 at-bats in Columbus, but just as importantly than that, Mark Reynolds and Mike Aviles are grading out terribly at third base. Chisenhall isn’t a gold-glover, but he’ll be an improvement and he’s still the team’s only option as a long-term third basemen.
9. The only team with a winning record that has allowed more home runs than the Indians pitching staff is the Baltimore Orioles. Our staff has given up the seventh most home runs in baseball at 70. The long ball hurt Masterson, Kazmir, and Kluber dearly in this series. We do a good job of limiting hits and getting strikeouts, but continue to struggle with walks and home runs.
As bad as this last stretch has been, the Indians find themselves only two games in back of Detroit and heading there for a three-game series. It’s a chance to put this past series behind them and close the gap in the division, or even take the lead. These are the games you have to win, no matter which point they occur in the year. The series kicks off on Friday with Ubaldo Jimenez facing off against Justin Verlander.