The Indians roughed up Max Scherzer last week, pounding him for seven runs in seven innings of work. And based on recent history, we should’ve seen this coming. Since 2007, defending AL Cy Young winners are just 5-11 with a 4.91 ERA against the Tribe.
I know Terry Francona likes Mike Aviles for his versatility, but there are far better ways for a small market club to spend $3.5M. Aviles recently became the 284th position player in franchise history to play in 162 games for the Tribe, and only 14 of those players have posted a lower OBP than Aviles’ .282. A few notables who have been worse than Aviles: Andy Marte (.281), Joel Skinner (.279) and Alvaro Espinoza (.276).
Baseball Reference has a fun tool that lets you convert a player’s salary to different eras based on the rate at which average salaries have increased in baseball. If you inflate Espinoza’s contract to today’s value, the Indians would be paying him approximately $650,000. And yet, they’re actually paying his modern-day equivalent (Aviles) $3.5M.
Josh Tomlin has walked one or fewer batters in eight straight starts, dating back to 2012. Over the past 100 years, Indians pitchers have put together just nine streaks longer than Tomlin’s current stretch. But this should come as no surprise, as Tomlin already holds the franchise record with a 20-game streak from his breakout 2011 season.
Pinch-hit home runs are rare (the Indians had just four last season). So is pinch-hitting for the cleanup hitter (they did that just twice in 2013). The combination, a feat with Lonnie Chisenhall accomplished against the Orioles, is an extremely rare statistical quirk. Over the past 75 years, the Indians have had just seven pinch-hit home runs from the No. 4 spot in the order. Chisenhall’s was the first since Eddie Taubensee pinch-hit for Juan Gonzalez in 2001.
But Taubensee’s pinch-hit situation was a result of the Indians losing 9-0 the Reds. The last time the pinch-hit home run was a result of a legitimate matchup situation was the previous instance in 1986. Andre Thornton pinch-hit for lefty Mel Hall against Angels’ lefty Terry Forster in the 9th inning of a game in which the Indians led 5-4.
The Indians were in last place on Memorial Day for just the third time since moving into Jacobs Field in 1994. How irrelevant is that statistic? In 2011 and 2012 the Indians were in first place on Memorial Day, and went on to finish under .500 both years.
There was a little bit of bad luck involved in Justin Masterson‘s three inning outing against the White Sox, but nonetheless, it continues a career-long streak of pitiful road performances. Among Indians pitchers with at least 50 road starts in the last 100 years, only Jaret Wright and Neal Heaton have posted a worse ERA than Masterson. And while Baseball-Reference doesn’t provide the era-adjusting ERA+ statistic for splits, it’s safe to assume when compared to league averages, Masterson’s performance has been significantly worse than Wright’s in the midst of the steroid era.