One of the bigger questions heading into this weekend’s series in Cleveland between the Indians and the Oakland Athletics is whether these two teams will look the same by the time they part ways. With the trade deadline looming, the Indians presumably buying, and the A’s in position to be selling, chances are at least one of these teams will have some transactions completed, or at least in progress.
Could the two even become trade partners? It isn’t necessarily out of the question.
For the Indians (57-42), they certainly have their needs. The offense has produced, but lacks any production from the catching position, with the exception of sacrifice bunts. The bullpen is of great concern, and there could be room for upgrade on the roster in the outfield or at third base.
The Athletics (47-55) never got going this season and a look at the number of names on their disabled list may provide a little bit of a glimpse into just how this season was lost. Yet, as has seemed to be the case all season long for Cleveland, the Indians catch a bad team while hot. The A’s have won five of their last six, including three straight over the Rays and a pair against the Texas Rangers in a three-game series.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Friday, 7/29, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Kendall Graveman (7-6, 4.15 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (7-4, 3.65)
Graveman, 25, will be making his second career start at Progressive Field and his third start against the Indians. He is 0-1 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.38 WHIP so far. Bauer will be making just his second start against Oakland, who he limited to just one run on four hits in six and two-thirds innings in a no-decision in 2015.
Saturday, 7/30, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Dillon Overton (1-1, 8.40) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (10-3, 3.48)
This will be the first start for the rookie Overton against the Indians and just his fourth career start overall. Tomlin has faced the A’s twice in his career and lost twice, but both of his outings were quality starts. He allowed three runs (two earned) on just three hits (two home runs) in seven and two-thirds innings in 2011. His last time out in 2014, he allowed three runs over six innings in the loss.
Sunday, 7/31, 1:10 PM ET – TBA vs. RHP Corey Kluber (9-8, 3.48)
The A’s had not announced a starter for Sunday at the time of this story. Kluber will be looking for his first career win against Oakland in five tries. He is 0-4 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in five games (four starts). His first appearance was a relief one in 2011 before four straight losses. His last time out against them last season, he took a tough loss after allowing just two runs on four hits over eight innings.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; CSCA
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 95.7 FM The Game (Oakland)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 60-day disabled list (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation, right biceps tendinitis
Joe Colon (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 22) – right shoulder inflammation
Yan Gomes (C) – 15-day disabled list (July 17) – separated right shoulder
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 16) – non-displaced lower back fracture
Jeff Manship (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 29) – right wrist tendonitis
Zach McAllister (RP) – activated from 15-day disabled list (July 29)
Henderson Alvarez (SP) – 60-day disabled list (March 25) – recovery from July 2015 right shoulder surgery
Chris Bassitt (SP) – out for season – recovery from May 2016 Tommy John surgery
Mark Canha (LF) – out for season – recovery from May 2016 left hip surgery
Sean Doolittle (RP) – 15-day disabled list (June 26) – left shoulder strain
Felix Doubront (SP) – out for season – recovery from April 2016 Tommy John surgery
Sam Fuld (LF) – out for season – recovery from May 2016 left shoulder surgery
Rich Hill (SP) – day-to-day – blister on left hand
Andrew Lambo (RF) – 60-day disabled list (July 4) – recovery from June 2016 testicular cancer surgery
Jarrod Parker (SP) – 60-day disabled list (March 13) – recovery from March 2016 right elbow surgery
Josh Phegley (C) – 15-day disabled list (July 2) – recovery from July 2016 right knee surgery
Fernando Rodriguez (P) – 60-day disabled list (July 4) – right rotator cuff strain
Eric Sogard (2B) – 60-day disabled list (March 28) – recovery from April 2016 left knee surgery
Andrew Triggs (P) – 15-day disabled list (July 18) – left shin contusion; on rehab
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Athletics are one of the Indians’ most played opponents of all-time, with 1,939 games against one another (the next closest team is the Kansas City Royals at 661). While the two teams do not play with the frequency that they once did, the Athletics and Indians did play heavy schedules against one other during the A’s time in Philadelphia and Kansas City before becoming fixtures in the AL West.
The Indians hold a 558-417 advantage when playing the A’s in Cleveland, dating back to 1901. This will be the first series for the two clubs against one another this season – Oakland took four of seven last year, including each of the final two games of both home and road series. The series was closely matched, however, as the A’s outscored the Tribe, 17-16.
Several members of the active A’s roster have ties to the Cleveland organization.
Injured starter Hill was with Cleveland briefly in 2013, working as a reliever in 63 games for the club while posting a troubling 6.28 ERA in 38 2/3 innings. While working through the minors in much of 2014 and 2015, Hill found something that has turned him into a quality Major League starter at the age of 36. He is 9-3 this season with a 2.25 ERA in 14 games, including 90 strikeouts and a 1.09 WHIP in 76 innings. He was 2-1 in four starts last season for the Red Sox with a 1.55 ERA and 0.66 WHIP, while striking out 36 in 29 innings.
Coco Crisp was traded to the Indians as a player to be named later in the Chuck Finley trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002. He debuted with the Indians that season and spent four years on the roster before he was traded to Boston prior to the 2006 season.
John Axford’s stay in Cleveland was short after the team added him in the offseason prior to the 2014 season to be their closer. It did not work out as the likeable Axford blew three saves and eventually turned the closer’s role over to Cody Allen.
Marc Rzepczynski’s time in Clevleand was marked by a trade deadline acquisition and a trade deadline deal. He was acquired from St. Louis in 2013 and helped stabilize the bullpen with a solid finish to the year. He was traded last July to San Diego for Abraham Almonte. The Padres flipped him to Oakland as part of a five-player swap that included another deadline deal former Indian, Drew Pomeranz.
That deal that sent Pomeranz and Alex White to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez also featured Joe Gardner and Matt McBride. The latter is on the A’s roster and has appeared in 15 games for Oakland this season. The second round pick by the Indians in 2006 has spent 87 games at the big league level, hitting .205.
DAVIS KHRUSHING IT
Outfielder Khris Davis, picked up in the offseason from Milwaukee, has flourished in the American League and has not slowed down any since the All-Star break. He leads the club with six homers and 12 RBI while hitting .304 in 12 games in the second half.
On the season, he is hitting .256 and leads the team with 25 homers and 67 RBI, 18 more than the next closest run producer, Marcus Semien. Davis has nine multi-homer games since the start of the 2015 season, the most in the Majors in that span.
SEMIEN SUPPLYING THE POWER
Speaking of Semien, he has developed the pop in his bat that many thought he might while he was a member of the Chicago White Sox. Dealt as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade several offseasons ago, he is second on the team with 21 homers and 49 RBI this season. He is hitting just .233, but has a .300 on-base percentage. He has nine stolen bases on the season, but four have come in his 13 games since the break.
THE WAY THE WEST WAS WON
The Indians have had some struggles in games against the AL West this season, posting a 7-9 record against the other four teams in the division. So far this season, they are 1-2 against Houston and Texas, 3-4 against Seattle, and 2-1 against Los Angeles.
After playing the majority of their games on the road this season, the Indians will finally get an extended taste of home cooking, which could only serve the club well. At home in 2016, the Indians are 27-17. After their nine-game road trip to start the second half ended, they entered into a stretch of 20 of 25 games and 30 of 42 at home. They have started that stretch 1-1 after splitting with the Washington Nationals this week.
HOME IS WHERE LINDOR LOVES TO PLAY
Francisco Lindor loves the game of baseball, seen by his ever-present smile, but he may love the extended chance to play at home even more. This season, he is hitting .353 at home (second-best mark in the league) with five homers and 28 RBI, compared to .270 on the road with seven homers and 22 RBI. The All-Star shortstop has hit in five straight games (9-for-21) and is hitting .313 in 21 games in July.
NAQUIN HAS MADE HIS MARK
Tyler Naquin’s season may be a surprise to most everyone, especially his play over the course of the last several months. All 12 of his career homers have come in that span, with six in June and six in July. He has hit .375 at home on the season with seven of those homers and half of his 32 RBI this season. He has hit in three straight games.
The Indians continue their homestand on Monday when they begin a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins. The A’s will take Monday off as they travel back to California, where they will take on Los Angeles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Tuesday in three straight.
Photo: AP Photo/Ben Margot