Struggling pitchers meet in Indians, Brewers clash

CLEVELAND — Two struggling pitchers will try to climb out of their slumps Wednesday afternoon as the Cleveland Indians host the Milwaukee Brewers in the second contest of their brief two-game mini-series at Progressive Field.

Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 4.50 ERA) and Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson (4-4, 4.45 ERA) are both trending in the wrong direction for the Central Division leaders in the American and National Leagues.

Carrasco got off to a good start but has been in a slump for the last month and a half. After going 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his first five starts, Carrasco has labored through his last seven starts with a record of 2-4 and a 6.37 ERA.

Carrasco is coming off his worst start of the season, a 7-4 loss in Minnesota on June 1. Carrasco, an 18-game winner last year, pitched a season-low 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Wednesday will be Carrasco’s second career appearance against the Brewers. His first came on May 9 of this year, his best start of the season. Carrasco got a complete game 6-2 victory, allowing just five hits, and one walk, with a season-high 14 strikeouts.

Anderson’s last start was an 8-3 loss to the White Sox, in Chicago, on June 1. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits, with one walk and one strikeout.

Anderson only has one career appearance against the Indians, and it came four years ago. On June 25, 2014, as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Anderson took a 6-1 loss, giving up four runs on seven hits in five innings, striking out four and walking three.

One player who won’t be in the Cleveland lineup Wednesday is center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who was activated off the disabled list on May 31, but optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday.

Zimmer’s problem has been his offense — or lack of it. He is hitting .226 with two home runs, nine RBIs and 44 strikeouts in 106 at bats.

“Offense has been a struggle for him, especially the strikeouts,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s our best center fielder and we fully believe he’ll be back. It’s just really hard trying to make adjustments at the major league level.”

Zimmer’s demotion allowed the Indians to activate outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who had been on the DL since April 8 with a strained calf. With the demotion of Zimmer, Greg Allen becomes the Indians’ everyday center fielder.

Allen was recalled from Columbus on May 6 and has steadily improved since. On May 25, Allen was hitting .209 with a .244 on base percentage and .256 slugging percentage. In nine games since then he is hitting .306/.405/.576.

“When a guy plays like he has, it allows you to do something that maybe you weren’t sure you could do,” Francona said.

Carrasco will face a Milwaukee team that is second in the National League in home runs, and one of the Brewers’ big boppers is an ex-Indian. First baseman Jesus Aguilar is hitting .301 and is second on the Brewers in home runs (10) and RBIs (32).

Aguilar was originally signed by the Indians but was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in February 2017. In two years with the Brewers, Aguilar is hitting .278, with 26 homers and 84 RBIs.

“Good for him,” said Francona. “He got his chance, and he’s making the most of it.”