Despite the slugging teams of the 1990’s, including a team that scored 1000 runs in a season (the last team in major league baseball to do so), Jacobs Field/Progressive Field has always been a pitcher’s park.
That speaks to how great those Indians teams that featured Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga, Manny Ramirez, and Jim Thome really were. They placed half of their games in a park that helped pitchers.
Now, the Indians have a problem. Their ballpark helps the pitchers and it is making it look better than it is.
Not that ranking 12th in the American League looks good. Cleveland pitchers rank ahead of only Baltimore, Toronto, and Houston in ERA.
However, on the road it is worse as Tribe hurlers rank ahead of only Seattle in terms of that statistic. That would partially explain why the Indians have lost 10 games in the row away from Progressive Field. They have a 4.72 ERA away from home.
The particular problem that has plagued Cleveland pitchers on the road is the base on balls. They have issued 118 walks on the road, 14 more that the next worst group, the Chicago White Sox.
Opposition hitters are only hitting .253 against the Tribe staff, the 5th best rate in the AL. But they have allowed 35 home runs, the 4th worst mark in the league. If you walk people and give up home runs, you are going to allow a lot of runs.
At home, the Tribe’s ERA is a respectable 4.15, which is 10th in the AL, but only .08 behind the Red Sox staff, which is in the middle of the pack. The walks are a problem at home too, though, allowing the 5th most in the Junior Circuit.
If you have figured out at this point that Cleveland pitchers are allowing too many batters to reach base via the walk, you are correct. Tribe pitchers are 3rd in the league overall, behind just Houston and Boston.
They’ve also allowed the 4th most dingers in the league, behind only Baltimore, Houston, and Toronto.
The home runs are equally spread out among the starters and relievers. The starters have given up 48 bombs, 5th worst in the league, while the relievers have allowed the 3rd highest total.
The bases on balls are the same ways. The starters have walked the 3rd most in the American League, the relievers rank 4th.
The one thing that doesn’t make this combination an unmitigated disaster is the Cleveland pitchers ability to strike people out, ranking behind just Detroit and Boston in that category.
In their recent losing streak, however, it is the starting pitching that is really letting the team down, allowing 2o runs in the first three innings, putting the team in a hole right off the bat.
So, while the starters’ ERA is 4.46, that figure has been accomplished because they have righted the ship after falling behind early and they have given Terry Francona around six innings per start.
In the Yankee series alone, all three starters (Justin Masterson, Scott Kazmir, and Corey Kluber) gave up big innings in the first three frames, but settled in and gave the skipper at least six innings, thus protecting the bullpen.
Earlier in the season, Indians’ pitchers were not walking as many batters, ranking in the middle of the pack, but as of late, that has changed and the extra base runners are lengthening innings, and helping set up three run home runs.
If the Indians are going to get going again, and as we said before the season started that this would be a streaky team, then the pitchers need to throw strikes, and they must pitch better on the road.
Until that happens, the Tribe will continue to struggle.