Cleveland Indians Series Preview: Washington Nationals, June 14-June 16

Ryan Zimmerman cranks a home run - Doug Pensinger

The Indians start a nine game homestand with a visit from one of their interleague opponents, the Washington Nationals.

This next homestand opens with a 7:05 PM Friday matchup, a 7:15 PM Saturday game slated to be on the Fox networks and a Sunday matinee at 1:05 PM. Division rivals Royals and Twins follow with three games each with a day off between those series.

Team in a Box

Washington Nationals

Offense

NL Rank

Pitching

NL Rank

2013 Record

33-32

Runs/Game

3.5

14th

Runs/Game

3.9

5th

NL East

2nd

OBP

293

13th

H/9

8.5

4th

Last 10

5-5

SLG

374

13th

BB/9

2.5

3rd

Last 30

13-17

Steals

26

10th

SO/9

7.3

9th

The lineup is missing two key cogs in Harper and Espinosa. But even with those two in the lineup, this team struggles offensively. They are in the lower third in almost every hitting category. Davey Johnson has them scoring just enough to be a .500 because the starting pitching (except for Haren) and back end of the bullpen have been fantastic. They are in the top third in most categories except for strikeouts. Their defense has been lousy, leading the league in errors and dead last in fielding percentage. If our offense can generate anything against their top three starters, the Indians have a decent shot in this series.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

CF

Denard Span

L

267

263

318

360

91

LF

Roger Bernadina

L

114

194

265

311

60

3B

Ryan Zimmerman

R

214

274

350

458

122

RF

Jayson Werth

R

141

252

305

389

91

1B

Adam LaRoche

L

242

250

335

443

114

SS

Ian Desmond

R

259

293

326

483

121

2B

Anthony Rendon

R

59

308

390

404

121

C

Kurt Suzuki

R

170

221

284

318

67

DH

Steve Lombardozzi

S

146

217

229

275

39

I am not sure how this lineup is producing runs. Span is alright at the top, but Bernadina is a terrible hitter to have at #2. Zimmerman and LaRoche seem to be the power threats, but they are not having superb seasons, but just good ones. Werth has been fighting through injuries. Rendon has been ok since replacing injured Espinosa. I picked Lombardozzi to be the DH, but who knows which terrible hitter will be slotted there. Chad Tracy (3 OPS+) is having a terrible year hitting. Recent call-up Jeff Kobernus has ok numbers but only in 16 plate appearances and Chris Marrero (2 PA) was just activated as well. The backup catcher is Jhonatan Solano (23 OPS+) as Ramos is hurt.

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

June 14

Gio Gonzalez (Masterson)

L

3.59

77.2

107

6.8

4.1

8.6

June 15

Jordan Zimmermann (Kazmir)

R

2.00

94.2

192

6.8

1.2

5.8

June 16

Stephen Strasburg (Kluber)

R

2.54

74.1

151

7.0

2.5

8.8

The schedule makers did not favor us for this series as we get all three of their top starters. However, Gonzalez is not as dominant as he was in 2012 and Strasburg is returning from DL stint with a lat strain. After finishing third in Cy Young voting last year (attention Cleveland bats!!), Gonzalez has regressed to a more league average pitcher. Although his numbers look pretty close to last season, with a slight jump in BB/9, but nothing higher than in his early years. He has been excellent against the Tribe historically, 5-0 in six starts, 0.72 ERA, 1.179 WHIP and 8.0 K/9. Zimmermann is the ace of the staff this season, but has a very low K rate. He has never faced us. Strasburg had one start back in 2010, striking out 8 in 5.1 innings and only two hits, one being a homer. He did walk five though. He is also just returning from injury.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Rafael Soriano

R

2.67

27.0

145

9.0

1.7

7.7

Drew Storen

R

4.73

26.2

82

1.5

2.4

8.1

Tyler Clippard

R

2.67

27.0

145

4.7

4.0

9.3

For being a long time veteran, Soriano has only made 14 appearances against us. He notched four saves as a Yankee last year though and overall has a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings with 9.2 K/9. Storen has only one appearance against us, a scoreless 1.1 innings in 2010. His 2013 splits (62/140 RH/LH tOPS+) show that lefties hit him well, including all 4 home runs this season. Clippard also has one appearance, a perfect 0.2 innings, also in 2010. But his split is reverse this year, 122/81 RH/LH tOPS+. Other arms include Craig Stammen (131 ERA+), Ross Ohlendorf (6 IP), and lefties Fernando Abad (8.2 IP), Ian Krol (3.2 IP) and Xavier Cedeno (1.1 IP). One of the young'uns will have to be sent down when Strasburg is activated on Sunday.

On the Shelf

  • 2B Danny Espinosa (right wrist fracture) - 15-day DL, on AAA rehab
  • RP Christian Garcia (right forearm ligament) - 60-day DL, on AAA rehab
  • CF Bryce Harper (left knee bursitis) - 15-day DL, no timetable defined
  • RP Ryan Mattheus (fractured right hand) - 15-day DL, possible August return
  • C Wilson Ramos (left hamstring strain) - 15-day DL, no timetable defined

Missing Espinosa and Harper has left the team very depleted. And Strasburg was named here, but he has been cleared to start the Sunday game.

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2012

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Last 5

2

1

667

18

12

677

Last 10

3

3

500

24

22

540

All-Time

4

5

444

32

36

446

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