CLEVELAND — In game two of the four-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros Tuesday night at Progressive Field, it was supposed to be an all-Cy Young Award pitching matchup.
Cleveland's Corey Kluber, who won the award in 2014, was supposed to face Houston's Dallas Keuchel, who won the award last year. But that matchup will not take place.
Keuchel has been scratched from the start due to left shoulder inflammation. He has been sent back to Houston for further examination. Keuchel had been scheduled to start Sept. 2 at Texas, but he was scratched from that start, and had it pushed back to Tuesday. But those plans were canceled Monday, and nobody knows when, or even if, Keuchel will pitch again this year.
“He's not going to be pitching for us for a while,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
The Astros will recall Brad Peacock from Triple-A Fresno to start Tuesday's game in Cleveland. In 21 starts at Fresno, Peacock was 5-6 with a 4.23 ERA. He was up with the Astros earlier this season and made five relief appearances and had no record and a 3.86 ERA.
“Part of the game of baseball is somebody needs to step up. Peacock will get the chance (Tuesday),” Hinch said.
Keuchel's numbers this year (9-12, 4.55) are dramatically down from last year, when he was 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA. The Astros were handling him carefully this year after he pitched a career-high 232 innings last year, 246 innings if you count the 14 innings he pitched in the postseason.
Kluber (15-8), who has entered into the Cy Young discussion for this year, has been arguably the best pitcher in the American League for the last two months. He hasn't lost a game since July 3. In 10 starts since then, he is 7-0 with a 1.94 ERA. In those 10 starts, Kluber has held opposing hitters to a .216 batting average and .274 on base percentage.
Kluber faced Houston once this year and it was one of his worst starts of the year. In a 7-1 loss on May 9, he threw 54 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits with three walks.
However, in six career appearances, five starts, vs. Houston Kluber is 4-2 with a 2.73.
Kluber's start on Tuesday will be even more important, given that the Indians used seven relievers in a 6-2 loss Monday night. That happened because manager Terry Francona wanted to skip struggling Josh Tomlin's turn in the rotation.
Even with the September call-ups, the Indians' bullpen could be a little short going into Kluber's start Tuesday, which is probably why they recalled left-hander Kyle Crockett from Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Crockett will serve as a second left-hander in the bullpen behind Andrew Miller.
As for Tomlin, no decision has been made when he will go back into the rotation. He did pitch a scoreless ninth inning on Monday, but his future in the rotation for the rest of the season remains up in the air.
“We haven't decided anything on that yet. We want to keep all of our options open,” said Francona.