2011 (Abbreviated) Series Preview: Indians vs Twins (4/23-4/24)

I happen to live in Chicago and the local weatherman here, Tom Skilling, announced yesterday that for the first time in 125 years of weather record-keeping, Chicago had gotten rain for 8 straight days. I should probably also mention that the temperatures haven’t gotten above 50 this entire time either, making for a really tough stretch of cold, rainy days. Yesterday, the weather in Minneapolis was the same as the weather here in Chicago which caused a rain-out and gave me an extra day to write up a Indians/Twins preview…albeit a shortened version because now it’s only likely going to be a 2-game series. So here’s a bonus Indians vs. Twins preview and for all of us, I hope the weather Gods shine their faces upon us soon with some 70+ degree days to go along with ample sunshine…

Cleveland Indians

  • 2011 Regular Season Record: 13-6, 1st in the AL Central
  • 99 Runs Scored (3th in the AL) / 66 Runs Allowed (2nd in the AL)

Minnesota Twins

  • 2011 Regular Season Record: 7-12, 5th in the AL Central (6.0 GB)
  • 57 Runs Scored (14th in the AL) / 89 Runs Allowed (9th in the AL)

Pitching Matchups

April 23rd (1:10pm EDT): LHP Brian Duensing (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. RHP Fausto Carmona (1-2, 4.74ERA)

The Twins kinda threw a change-up (no pun intended) in announcing that Liriano’s start was going to be moved back to Tuesday after last night’s rain-out. It doesn’t sound like anyone is overly concerned about Liriano and, in fact, a few extra days rest might help the struggling lefty. As for Brian Duensing, I think we’d have to give him the label of “most consistent pitcher” so far this year. He’s kept the Twins in every game that he’s pitched, he’s given the Twins 7.0 innings in two of his starts and 6.0 innings in the other, and the Twins have ended up winning all three of the games in which he’s started so far this season. You can’t say that for any of the other arms in the rotation right now. Duensing has a healthy 14:6 K/BB ratio and has only allowed two HRs on the season, both hit by the Yankees in his first start of the season.

Duensing’s Career Against the Indians: 18.1 IP, 3.93 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 13:6 K/BB

After a disastrous opening start of the year against the White Sox, Carmona has settled down nicely allowing only 3 runs in his last 3 starts while giving the Indians 21.2 innings over those 3 starts. Carmona has generally done pretty well against the Twins over the past couple of years, but his overall 4.82 ERA in 89+ IP gives me reason to think that the Twins could have some success against him today. Jason Kubel has hit Carmona especially hard, owning a 1.077 OPS against the right-hander in 36 at-bats.

Carmona’s Career Against the Twins: 89.2 IP, 4.82 ERA, 1.439 WHIP, 49:36 K/BB

April 24th (2:10pm EDT): RHP Carl Pavano (1-2, 5.47 ERA) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-1, 4.85 ERA)

So far this season it’s been the tale of two Pavanos, which isn’t all that unusual for Carl’s career, but it can be somewhat frustrating as a fan. In two of his starts this season he has gone 8 innings, surrendering only 4 hits in each with a combined K/BB ratio of 8:3. In the other two starts, he’s lasted less than 5 innings and given up 14 earned runs (16 overall) with a combined K/BB ratio of 6:5. In the good starts, his games scores were 70 and 79, in the bad ones they were 21 and 18. Feast or famine. Day and Night. Hot and Cold. Naturally I’d like to see a good start from Pavano and if history is any indication, we likely will see “Good Pavano” in tomorrow start:

Pavano’s Career Against the Indians: 35.2 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 26:9 K/BB

The starter for the other team is the up-and-coming Carlos Carrasco. Much like his counterpart Carmona, the 24-year-old Carrasco had a rough first start of the year, but has settled in nicely allowing no more than 3 ERs in each of his last 3 starts. Carrasco has a nice 4-pitch repertoire headlined by a fastball that sits between 92-95 mph. His most-used secondary pitch is his changeup which has averaged 86.1 mph this season. In two brief appearances with the Indians in the past two years, Carrasco was a heavy ground-ball pitcher, but so far this year he’s actually been prone to more fly-balls, though he has only given up  one HR so far this season. This should be a tight one as both starters have fared well against their opponents.

Carrasco’s Career Against the Indians: 18.1 IP, 2.03 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8:6 K/BB

Who’s Hot

Cleveland Indians:

There aren’t a whole lot of “hot” players on the Indians, but rather it’s been a case of someone different stepping up every night. The resurgence of “Pronk” (Travis Hafner) has definitely been a welcome sight for the Indians offense and he has helped carry them with a .344/.397/.607 hitting line to go along with 4 HRs and 10 RBI up to this point. The return of Grady Sizemore to the lineup makes a big difference as well and he’s off to a hot start, hitting .421/.476/.737 through his first 19 at-bats. The Indians lineup features 6 players with 10 or more RBIs and the team as a whole is batting .269, good for 7th in all of Baseball right now.

Minnesota Twins:

When I think of the Twins right now, “hot” and “hitter” aren’t two words that come to mind at the same time. That said, the Twins do have a couple of offensive standouts, including Jason Kubel (.319.356/.478) and Denard Span (.312/.346/.416). Danny Valencia leads the team with 9 RBIs and Koobs leads the team with 8 Runs Scored. I have to think this ship is gonna turn itself around at some point,…the Twins still haven’t score more than 5 runs in any game this year, and tonight’s game will be their 20th…lucky number 20 right?

Who’s Cold

Cleveland Indians:

Both Shin Soo Choo and Carlos Santana are off to slow starts but for Choo this is nothing out of the ordinary for him. March and April are his worst months, statistically, and he’ll start to heat up at the plate as we move into May and June. As for Santana, his peripheral numbers are there (13:11 K/BB) and his production numbers aren’t bad either, he’s just not getting the hits to fall (.235 BABIP) and his power is lacking (4 xbh so far). He’ll come around, he’s got about as high of a ceiling as any youngster in baseball right now, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of offense force he develops into.

Minnesota Twins:

Pretty much everyone not named Kubel or Span is cold right now for the Minnesota Twins, or they have a cold (flu). Both Delmon Young and Justin Morneau have missed multiple games with the flu and the Twins have been without Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Joe Mauer for significant time as well. That has left Gardenhire with no choice but to regularly play guys like Luke Hughes, Matt Tolbert, Steve Holm and Drew Butera. It’s hard to expect the Twins to score all that many runs when you’ve got offensive duds like that playing every-day.

Injury Update

Cleveland Indians:

15-Day DL: SS Jason Donald (Hand injury), RHP Mitch Talbot (Elbow)

Minnesota Twins:

Day-t0-day: 1B Justin Morneau (Flu), LF Delmon Young (Flu)

15-Day DL: C Joe Mauer (Flu, Bi-Lateral Leg Weakness), Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Fractured Left Fibula), LHP Kevin Slowey (Shoulder Strain)

Topics: Brian Duensing, Carl Pavano, Carlos Carrasco, Carlos Santana, Delmon Young, Denard Span, Fausto Carmona, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau

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