After a successful 4-3 road trip through Atlanta, Boston and Detroit the boys in blue return home to the K for a nice long home stand. With the guys returning home we thought we check back in with our friends at Wahoo’s on First, here’ is our Q&A with Brian Heise who’s staff writer over there.
Kings of Kauffman – What has stuck out with Cleveland’s start this season?
Wahoo’s on First – Surprisingly, it’s the lackluster performance of the offense to start the season. With the acquisitions we made this offseason, everyone figured the Indians would be one of the top run scoring teams in baseball. That hasn’t really happened, at least not yet. Sure, we’ve had a few eruptions against Tampa and Houston, but runs have been pretty hard to come by. I think injuries are partly to blame. Missing Michael Bourn has really hurt over the past week or so, Jason Kipnis has been dealing with a sore elbow on top of an ice cold start, and Asdrubal Cabrera has struggled with a few lingering issues physically. They’re the top three in our everyday lineup and without them getting on base it’s made things that much more difficult for everyone else. I think it’s only a matter of time though until they turn things around and really get things going offensively. Now the starting pitching, that’s a whole other story.
KOK – Any noticed differences with Terry Francona in the dugout
WOF – Yes, and not just the increased consumption of Double Bubble over the course of nine innings. The big difference is apparent in how he handles the in game decisions and the lineups. With Eric Wedge it became comical how we never seemed to have the same lineup day in and day out. There was no consistency and I think that wore on the players at times. Then under Manny Acta it was a complete debacle. Batting Jose Lopez cleanup, intentionally walking Mitch Mooreland to get to Adrian Beltre (he hit a home run that still hasn’t landed), and refusing to utilize players in a practical manner. With Francona, there seems to be a more relaxed atmosphere with him putting more faith in the players to come through. He’s not micromanaging situations and forcing square pegs into round holes. It’s refreshing.
KOK – These two teams had tension last season due you think that’s gone with Choo now in Cincinnati?
WOF – I don’t think there will be any sort of carry over effect. The two players most having issue with one another, Choo and Jonathan Sanchez, are both long gone. There has also been so much roster turnover on our side of things that I find it hard to believe anything could come bubbling to the surface. Nowadays with things as they are with free agency, the feuds tend to center more around individual players and less around the actual teams. Plus, Carlos Carrasco will be nowhere to be found so everyone on the Royals should be safe.
WOF – In Kazmir’s first and only start of the season, he was somewhat disappointing. After having a great spring he struggled with his command and the long ball and didn’t qualify for the win even though the Tribe scored 19 runs. He should bounce back, though. His velocity was great and he had good movement. The problem was that it was his first start of the DL and on top of that he had to endure sitting through an 8 run first and a 7 run second. I think he’ll show tremendous improvement against the Royals.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a mystery. To be honest, we’re all pretty much over him at this point. We never know what we’re going to get out of him and more often than not it’s a complete disaster. He had a decent start his last time out, so maybe he’s starting to turn the corner a bit, but until he can throw strikes with some sort of consistency things won’t really get better.
Justin Masterson has been phenomenal. After a subpar 2012 season following a dominant 2011, we were all a bit worried about whether or not he really was a front line starter. Well, those concerns have been set aside, at least for now. When his sinker is working, it’s almost impossible to make solid contact against him.
In game four, if I had to wager a guess, the Royals will probably face Corey Kluber. He was called up recently to replace Brett Myers in the rotation. Myers has been shelved with an elbow issue that may be the reason for his absolutely abysmal performance so far this season. As for Kluber, he’s nothing spectacular and gets hit pretty hard on a consistent basis. As soon as Myers is healthy or the Indians decide to permanently call up Trevor Bauer, Kluber will be back down in Triple A.
Pitching Match-ups and game times –
Friday: Scott Kazmir (0-0, 16.20) v. Ervin Santana (2-1, 2.48), 7:10 pm
Saturday: Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2, 10.06) v. Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.86), 6:10 pm
Sunday: Justin Masterson (4-1, 1.85) v. Luis Mendoza (0-1, 5.14), 1:10 pm
Monday: TBA v. Wade Davis (2-1, 3.20), 7:10 pm