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This might be the longest series of the year, so let's make this short and sweet. On to the Advance Scout!


Team: The preposterously patient Indians started the season on the right foot for once. They lead the AL Central at 14-8 and have won 7 of 8. They are protesting the one game they didn't win and might actually be successful.

The Indians have a clearly defined MO: they just walk and walk and walk and walk until it's past the other team's bedtime and they give up. The Tribe see 4.07 pitches per PA, easily #1 in the AL. As of last night, #2 Oakland was at 3.94; league average is 3.82. Is this true, Master of Understatement Eric Wedge? "Our guys do a pretty good job of making pitchers work." He's telling me. The Indians don't really hit for average - as a patient team they naturally strike out way too much to ever threaten to lead the league in BA - but they're #2 in the AL in runs per game at 5.23 anyway.

In addition to being the most patient offensive unit in the AL, Cleveland's lineup leans way, way left. And the Jays are going to challenge them with three straight righty starters notorious for running deep counts. It could be the busiest series the Jays' bullpen sees all year. If Burnett, Zambrano and McGowan are throwing strikes with their offspeed stuff, they will be fine. If not? It'll be a long three days and someone might want to look up Frank Menechino's number now before it's too late.

C.C. Sabathia: The big guy is off to a great start, 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA and excellent peripherals. He throws in the mid-90s and has two killer offspeed pitches: a nasty slider that accounts for many of his strikeouts and an effective change that's helped him keep righties off balance and sustain backwards splits over the last three years. With the Indians' lineup backing him up, he figures to be in the Cy Young discussion until October.

Jake Westbrook: With the security of his shiny new three-year contract, Westbrook has been uncharacteristically bad to open the year. He's run deep counts, had walk issues, given up way more longballs than you'd expect for a pitch-to-contact sinkerballer of his eminence, and had great difficulty getting out of jams. Ordinarily I'd reach for my stock line that the leadfooted, righty-heavy Jays are the ideal opponent for any struggling righty groundballer to snap out of his funk, but Adam Lind's emergence tempers that a bit.

Cliff Lee: The lefty is slated to make his first start of the year on Thursday. He's been on the DL since March with an abdominal strain. He throws a low-90s fastball, a biting curve and a cutter. During the offseason, he worked on adding a slider to his repertoire to keep hitters off the curve. Lee actually threw a slider once upon a time, so the idea isn't totally foreign to him. He just threw it harder and harder as his career went on and it evolved into a cutter. In the article, he suggests that he intends to use the slider as a strikeout pitch. Sounds interesting. If I know John Gibbons, Royce Clayton, 2-2 with a homer off Lee, is starting Thursday.

Ryan Garko: An absolute beastmaster at Stanford, Garko has earned a growing portion of the Indians' PT pie in Andy Marte's absence by building a reputation for clutchness. He's basically the everyday first baseman for now, and he's hitting 5th in the lineup a fair bit.

Josh Barfield: Is off to an awful start, mostly due to hit luck. He'll bounce back. He's already on a four-game hit streak. To compensate for the slump, he and roommate Garko are putting together a mosaic of giveaways from Cleveland sporting events. Barfield's favorite is a Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner piggy bank. Why? "Because I can use it. I always put my coins in there." But he's still showing off his defensive skills regularly, and his slump isn't getting him down. He learned how to leave it at the ballpark from Jesse: "When my dad came home, you couldn't tell if he had just gone 4-for-4 or was 0-for-24. He never took the game home with him."

Grady Sizemore: A walking freak with pop, excellent baserunning skills and great defense. Apparently he isn't the best leadoff man in the game. Coulda fooled me. He's right where he should be in the Tribe's order given the depth of power hitters they have. He hit his second career inside-the-park homer last week.

Casey Blake: Speaking of depth of power hitters, Blake has averaged 22 homers the last four years as the Tribe's third baseman. Did Ed Sprague ever do that? Speaking of former Blue Jays third basemen - here is Blake's #1 Baseball Reference comp...

Travis Hafner: A very, very, very powerful lefty hitter who has sustained comically high homers-per-fly rates and BABIPs throughout his career. He's only .244/.355/.615 against the Jays. He has made exactly one start at first base this year. On a related note, Einar Diaz is below the Mendoza line in the minors...

Joe Borowski's Mad Intangibles: Cleveland's new closer has uncloserly numbers across the board with one notable exception: he's 9 for 10 in save opportunities.

Fernando Cabrera: Power righty with nasty slider and splitter and well-documented command issues. In April, Cabrera won round 1 of his battle with walks. 5 more to go.

Tom Mastny: The Nasty one values his experience as a closer from last year. So says pitching coach Carl Willis: He saved five in a row at one point, so mentally he knows he can do it in the sixth, seventh or eighth if hes done it in the ninth."

Bullpen Holdovers: As Dennis Manoloff points out, Mastny, Cabrera, Jason Davis and Hat-Tuggin' Rafael Betancourt (with his new-and-improved change and curveball) have combined for more strikeouts than hits and walks combined to this point.

The Credit Section: Batted-ball, Leverage Index and balk data are available at Fangraphs. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances. Everything else, most notably the AL average statistics, is available at The Hardball Times.

The Clarification Section: LOB% is percentage of baserunners stranded. League average is 70%; there's no elegant place to put that in the chart without sacrificing some of its beauty. Dustin McGowan's innings per start does not include the rain-delayed game wherein he only pitched one inning; he's thrown 21 innings in his other 4 starts.


Advance Scout: Indians, May 1-3 | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
FanfromTheIsland - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#167013) #

What does "C.C." in Sabathia's name stand for? Not  "Crazy Changeup" I presume...

FanfromTheIsland - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#167015) #
Ah, Carsten Charles. Sorry about that.
Chuck - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#167017) #
Crooked Cap... Clownish Comportment... Chunky Chap... Clearly Carnivorous... 
Mylegacy - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#167018) #
In the AL Central our pesent record would put us in second last, just above KC, and well below first place Cleveland. The Indians will be sharpening their scalping knives in anticipation of our arrival. This will be an excellent test of our mettle. Let's circle the wagons, keep our powder dry, stay calm and when the dust settles...hope we have more scalps than they do.  
AWeb - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 05:11 PM EDT (#167020) #
Blake has averaged 22 homers the last four years as the Tribe's third baseman. Did Ed Sprague ever do that?

Yes he did actually. He averaged 22 hrs a year from 1995-1998.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#167021) #
Classic, Chuck. Maybe it doesn't actually stand for any particular one of those, just all of them. He's actually C.C. II, and his son's name is Carsten Charles III.

I brought Sprague up because I totally expected him to be one of Blake's comps ... and totally forgot he hit 36 jacks in 1996 (while still managing a .325 OBP).
Magpie - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 06:06 PM EDT (#167026) #
The Indians have a clearly defined MO: they just walk and walk and walk and walk until it's past the other team's bedtime and they give up. The Tribe see 4.07 pitches per PA, easily #1 in the AL.

Oh. And these are the guys we're sending Zambrano up against? And McGowan?
GregJP - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 07:07 PM EDT (#167029) #
Tabler speaking about McGowan....Forget about the 0-2 record, it's tough getting wins in the minor leagues.  Huh?

Nice start Pat, we missed you.





timpinder - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:05 PM EDT (#167031) #

I checked the weather forecast for Cleveland and there's a distinct possibility that tonight's game will be postponed.

So, with the new rules regarding rain delays, if the game is postponed then when it is resumed at a later date the Jays will have a 3-0 lead and the game will "start" with two out in the bottom of the 1st, right?

greenfrog - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:22 PM EDT (#167033) #
Can somebody please explain tonight's lineup (specifically, 6 through 9) to me? Overbay hits lefties much better than Fasano, so why not use something like this:

Rios
Wells
Thomas
Glaus
Hill
Overbay
Phillips
Lind
Clayton

That seems like a much more solid, and balanced, lineup.
greenfrog - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:32 PM EDT (#167034) #
Sorry...I just checked and Fasano actually has a respectable OPS against lefties (although his career BA against LHP is .228).

What I don't understand is:
- Clayton hitting 6th (he's hit .400 against Sabathia, but in only 16 PA, and he has no pop)
- Starting both catchers (at 1B and C), thereby limiting your pinch-hitting and pinch-running options
- Leaving Overbay, an experienced hitter with power (not to mention the better defensive 1B) on the bench

GregJP - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:55 PM EDT (#167035) #
When your starting pitcher throws belt high and down the middle fastballs to great fastball hitters I don't really think it matters what your batting order looks like.



Sherrystar - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 10:07 PM EDT (#167036) #

They showed a stat that Burnett is 3rd in the Majors for pitches per inning. His walks drive me crazy as do his heaters right down the plate!

And as for the bottom 3rd of the Jays lineup... Clayton, Phillips and Fasano... ugly, just ugly!

actionjackson - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 10:43 PM EDT (#167037) #
I think I can say with reasonable confidence that there will be no soul-crushing defeat tonight. Nice comeback by Philip Hughes in Texas tonight. Jonathan Papelbon is uh well human and the Sox suffer one of those soul-crushing defeats that Mike D likes to talk about. Baseball is a funny game.
Ron - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 10:54 PM EDT (#167038) #
AJ Burnett frustrates the hell out of me. Based on his terrific "stuff" he should be contending for the Cy Young award. At age 30, I don't consider him a young pitcher anymore. I'm still waiting for him to put it all together to contend for the Cy Young but I don't know if it's ever going to happen. The fact he already has 21 walks worries me.

I tip my cap to the Indian hitters. Boy do those guys grind out their AB's. It could get real ugly for Zambrano and McGowan.
actionjackson - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#167039) #
At least he finally has more K's than BB+HBP this year. 26 K, 21 BB, 4 HBP. Bleccchhh!!!
Paul D - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 11:22 PM EDT (#167041) #
Phillip Hughes pitched six no hit innings for the Yankees today, before leaving with an injury.  Torre says that he'll be out for six weeks.  I imagine ESPN will have an update by morning.
ChicagoJaysFan - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 11:33 PM EDT (#167042) #
I'd be checking on my health insurance if I was asked to take the mound for the Yankees. 

They've got to watch they don't dig themselves in too big of a hole right now. A .400 win percentage is tough to overcome (they need to go .616 to end up with 95 wins at the end of the season while the beantowners only need .575 right now - that's already getting to be a big spread for catching first).

actionjackson - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#167043) #
Don't cry for the Yankees. They'll be there in the end, they always are. Uncle George will see them through.
Original Ryan - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 11:40 PM EDT (#167044) #
A.J. Burnett is doing his best to unseat Todd Stottlemyre at the top of my list of All-Time Annoying Blue Jays Pitchers.
PaulE-O - Wednesday, May 02 2007 @ 04:17 AM EDT (#167049) #

I want to throw this out there - but why does Arnsberg still have a job? Is it not part of the pitching coach's remit to implement a throwing program for the staff that will 1) maximize potential and 2) prevent injury as much as possible?

It seems to me that Arnsberg has not been successful in getting success out of a whole stream of guys that have amazing stuff - the latest example being AJ (followed be a stream of others Batista, Escobar, etc).

and, obviously, whatever throwing program Arnsberg has these guys on is obviously not helping with injuries - in fact, it seems to me, with the exception of League, that everyone goes down with the same sort of elbow injury... I just don't understand why riccardi wouldn't try to get a new voice/face in there - it's not working

TA - Wednesday, May 02 2007 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#167055) #
It seems to me that Arnsberg has not been successful in getting success out of a whole stream of guys that have amazing stuff - the latest example being AJ (followed be a stream of others Batista, Escobar, etc).

While Escobar did indeed have injury troubles in 2005 (the first year Arnsberg was the Jays pitching coach) I think Arnsberg can be let off the hook on this one - considering that Escobar was already in his second year pitching for the Angles.
ChicagoJaysFan - Wednesday, May 02 2007 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#167064) #
I'd say Arnsberg has done pretty well as a pitching coach, although two years in is tough to judge for a pitching coach.  Like a hitting coach, I think that pitching coaches are (and should be) loathe to make dramatic changes in-season, so you really have to look at how they do over the period of 5+ years to see how they rebuild people.  Personally, I think the Jays have usually been pretty strong with their hitting and pitching coaches and now is no exception.  Widmar, Cisco, and Arnsberg are all guys that were/are near the top of their game (I never thought much of Mel Queen though).  Although we've had a revolving door at hitting coach, we've had some good ones go through (Gaston of course, but I also think that Sarge did a good job and like what Brantley has done so far).

As to why I like Arnsberg, well given his limited time, I think three guys have had career seasons with him (Chacin, Towers, and Ryan), while only one has had a season from hell (Towers).  The rest of the guys have done pretty much what you expect.  For Burnett specifically, I think people just expect too much from him - before the age of 30, he's already had two very good seasons (2002 with 204 innings and an ERA+ of 121 and 2005 with 209 innings and an ERA+ of 117).  The guy walks people - always has and probably always will and if that were something that were easy to fix, all pitchers would be like David Wells.
Rob - Wednesday, May 02 2007 @ 06:37 PM EDT (#167081) #
With regards to the One Possible Batting Order Among Many Cleveland Has Used vs RHP line in the chart, since I know how confusing some Advance Scouts get with those 1-to-9 lineup predictions, let's give some respect to Alex missing just the 5 and 6 hitters: first, look at these and find a clear 1-9 trend; second, tell me how many times, before this series, Nixon hit fifth with Garko sixth.
Advance Scout: Indians, May 1-3 | 24 comments | Create New Account
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