Series Preview: Cleveland Indians @ Texas Rangers - Make Yourself at Home

Indians fans, watching seven straight losses, surely wish they had Ron Washington as manager, right? - Leon Halip

The Rangers begin a much needed 11-game homestand against a struggling Cleveland Indians team

Series Schedule:

Monday, June 10 7:05: LHP Scott Kazmir vs. RHP Josh Lindblom

Tuesday, June 11 7:05: RHP Corey Kluber vs. LHP Derek Holland

Wednesday, June 12 7:05: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez vs. RHP Nick Tepesch

The Rangers have played only 26 games in Arlington this season. That's the fewest home games for a team in the American League so far. As a reward, the Rangers begin an 11-game homestand tonight against the Cleveland Indians. The 11-game stand is the longest such homestand that they Rangers have in any one season since 2008 and it couldn't have come at a better time.

With the Indians in town, it got me thinking about new Cleveland free agent signees Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. You may remember them as rumored Ranger targets this winter. They both ended up in Cleveland when the market dried up in no small part because of the inordinate cost of free agency, but also because each player had been made a qualifying offer by their previous team. So, to land Swisher or Bourn, it would cost a team a lot of cash and the forfeiture of a draft pick.

All throughout the winter we heard about how the Rangers would only sign a player if the entire package made sense, and, with losing their first round pick (No. 23 overall) and the draft slot money that came along with it - not to mention the price of signing an aging player - the team decided time and time again to pass on some names that seemed like they could have made sense otherwise. In addition to the never ending Kyle Lohse saga, Swisher and Bourn were perhaps the two biggest names folks were clamoring for the Rangers to sign.

Cleveland's first round pick was protected by virtue of being in the top half of the round. Therefore, they only relinquished their second round pick when they signed Swisher. It made a sort of sense then for them to swoop in and sign Bourn since he would only cost a third round pick, instead of a first-rounder, like it would for many of the contenders whom might have eyed Bourn otherwise. In the end, for a second round pick, third round pick, two four-year contracts and $104 million, the Indians landed a couple of big names.

So far this season Bourn and Swisher have been worth 1.1 and 1.0 fWAR, respectively. Bourn is sporting a slash line of .302/.343./.403 while only playing in 39 games thus far. Swisher is at .248/.339/.420 while playing a majority of his games at first base. Comparatively, the players Bourn and Swisher would have likely replaced had the Rangers signed them, Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin, and Mitch Moreland, are at 1.1, 0.1, and 1.4 fWAR on the season.

Both Bourn and Swisher are playing below their three-year average for WAR now a third of the way through the season (4.7 average fWAR for Bourn and 3.8 for Swisher), and have arguably been out-played by three players on the Rangers making about $100 million less.

Perhaps the Rangers knew what they were doing this winter after all. Then again, there is that Lance Berkman signing...

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the sliding Wahoos of Cuyahoga County:

  • Josh Lindblom: 0-1, 7.71 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, .375 BABIP, 65.8% LOB, 5.42 FIP, 5.37 xFIP, 0.0 WAR - Lone MLB start: 4 runs allowed in 4.2 innings
  • Scott Kazmir: 3-3, 9.32 K/9, 3.30 BB/9, .364 BABIP, 75.2% LOB, 4.47 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, 0.3 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 18.0 innings

Advantage: It's probably something of a sports miracle that Scott Kazmir is even back in the big leagues after washing out in Anaheim three years ago. Kazmir started 28 dreadful games for the Angels in 2010, as he lost all semblance of control and a ton of velocity off of his fastball. Then, in 2011, he pitched in one April game for the Angels, allowed five runs to the Royals in 1 2/3 innings, and was never heard from again. Well, until he was signed to a minor league deal by the Indians this offseason.

Kazmir has his pre-Angels bite on his fastball back (Velo around an average of 92 MPH instead of the 89 MPH he was working with with the Angels), and has started nine games for the Indians this season. He hasn't been great - as he's struggled with walks and allowing home runs - but the Indians have to be real pleased with anything they get from him in 2013, and Kazmir has to feel great knowing he's made it back.

Speaking of making it back, Josh Lindblom will make his second start of the year for the injured Alexi Ogando. There's really no telling what to expect from Lindblom as he's making his way as a starter this season for the first time since, like Kazmir, 2010.

If Lindblom's start in May against the A's is any indication, the Rangers might have to keep a close eye on him the 2nd and 3rd time through the Indians' order. Lindblom made it into the 5th inning allowing only one run before the wheels came off beginning with leadoff man Coco Crisp's 3rd at-bat.

  • Derek Holland: 5-2, 8.59 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, .324 BABIP, 74.7% LOB, 2.60 FIP, 3.20 xFIP, 2.7 WAR - Last three starts: 3 runs allowed in 20.2 innings
  • Corey Kluber: 3-4, 9.85 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, .341 BABIP, 67.7% LOB, 3.39 FIP, 2.84 xFIP, 0.8 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 14.2 innings

Advantage: Derek Holland has been real good this season. I don't know who Corey Kluber is. Though, I'll grant Kluber that eye-popping 6.00 K/BB rate.

  • Nick Tepesch: 3-5, 6.53 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, .283 BABIP, 72.7% LOB, 4.00 FIP, 3.75 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
  • Ubaldo Jimenez: 4-4, 9.05 K/9, 4.31 BB/9, .282 BABIP, 66.8% LOB, 4.41 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 18.0 innings

Advantage: Being really good at throwing a baseball is certainly a fragile, fleeting thing. I'll never forget playing hooky from work and going to see Ubaldo Jimenez pitch against Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park in May of 2010. At the time, it was the marquee pitching match-up in the majors. Jimenez didn't disappoint, he tossed a four-hit complete game shutout while striking out nine eventual-World Champion Giants. Lincecum was the then back-to-back NL Cy Young winner and now he can barely hold his spot in the Giants rotation while Ubaldo is a middling American League starter who walks the world. Oh to be great forever.

Nick Tepesch has run into some hard luck. Tepesch hasn't won a start since nearly a month ago in Houston but has allowed only 10 runs in his previous four starts (with six of those coming in his last start against Toronto). The problem is, in those four starts, the Rangers have scored a total of six runs for Tepesch. In three of those starts, the Rangers scored only one run. While Tepesch seems like the kind of guy who doesn't mind what the offense is doing for him while he's working on the mound, it would be generous of the offense to not take advantage of Tepesch's disposition.

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Cleveland Indians (30-32, 2nd Place in AL Central)

Rangers' 2013 Record vs. Cleveland: N/A (5-4 in 2012)

Cleveland's Recent Results: 0-3 swept by the first place Tigers at Detroit

Cleveland's 2013 Road Record: 12-20

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 116/112 - Runs: 115/116

SB Nation Indian's Blog: Let's Go Tribe

Match-up: (as of 06/10) Rangers Indians Advantage
Batting (RAR) 1.1 (13th) 22.1 (5th) My kingdom for a Carlos Santana
Base Running (RAR) -5.5 (28th) 1.6 (11th) The Rangers remain dreadful at running the bases
Starters (RAR) 33.7 15.0 Lindblom: Round Two
Bullpen (RAR) 23.1 (5th) 0.0 (12th) Chris Perez is off on the Silk Road
Defense (UZR) 0.3 (14th) -2.7 (18th) A defensive tailspin
Overall (UZR + RAR) 52.7 36.0

Rangers, hopefully

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale of 1-10: How much do you wish the Rangers had signed Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher and sacrificed pick No. 23 and $1,920,600.00 for the draft pool?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I'd like to see Lance Berkman start hitting again.)
  • Over/Under: 3.5 hits by Jurickson Profar in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Josh Lindblom tonight in his second big league start ever as he replaces the injured Alexi Ogando for the second time in less than a month?
  • Yea or Nay: The Rangers begin their 11-game homestand with a series win over Cleveland?
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