Derek Lowe has been well worth the investment this season for the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe should thank Atlanta, which is paying $10 million of his $15 million salary this year, for helping to provide the Indians with a veteran presence who has been the staff stopper. All five of Lowe’s wins have come after a loss this year. The 38-year-old Lowe improved to 5-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.47 ERA with Thursday’s 8-3 rout of the Boston Red Sox.
It’s been a bit of a surprise to see Lowe‘s renaissance because he was so awful last season when he went 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA for the Braves. Lowe has allowed more than three earned runs in a game only once this season, and he’s doing it by masterfully locating his pitches and inducing groundouts. He doesn’t have a power arm (he has a 1:1 strikeouts-to-walk ratio this season), but he can throw a cutter that will occasionally get by a batter.
–Jason Kipnis has been one of the Tribe’s top offensive performers this year and could be a worthy All-Star nominee at second base. He leads the team (through Thursday) in home runs (6), RBIs (21), runs (21) and stolen bases (6) and he’s third in batting average (.270). Kipnis is giving the Indians the second baseman they have been looking for since Roberto Alomar left after the 2001 season. In that 10-year span, 34 players have started a game at second.
–The Pittsburgh Pirates have the potential to reach .500 this season, but they need to cut down on the strikeouts to do so. The Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg recorded 13 strikeouts in six innings against the Bucs Thursday in a 4-2 Nats win. Strasburg’s strikeout-fest came just a few days after the Pirates fanned 17 times against the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates have racked up 242 Ks this season, fifth-most in the NL. Couple that stat with a .225 team batting average, and the Pirates will continue to have problems scratching out runs and putting together winning streaks.