Month in review: July

RotationJulyMaybe it took three months of ups and downs for Cleveland’s rotation to hit its stride. Or, maybe July was the best-case scenario, and regression should be anticipated across August and September. Whatever it was, the Indians enjoyed the heck out of their arms in July.

Led by the quartet of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland’s starting staff led the club to another 15-win month, keeping the Tribe in both the division and Wild Card hunt. That foursome combined to go 7-2 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in July, piling up 113 strikeouts in 129.2 innings.

Masterson made the American League All-Star team and continues to dominate with his signature sinker, and a slider that is currently valued as the best in baseball, according to Fangraphs.com. Kluber’s emergence continued, Kazmir finally found what he’s been looking for this year, and Jimenez kept his bend-but-don’t-break approach going.

The Indians also got righty Zach McAllister back from the disabled list after the All-Star break and received a stellar Major League debut from prospect Danny Salazar on July 11. We’ll just go ahead and ignore the Carlos Carrasco fiasco on July 6, and skip right to the month-by-month breakdown of the Tribe’s rotation this season:

April: 8-13, 5.09 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .778 OPS
May: 13-8, 3.70 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .710 OPS
June: 9-11, 4.68 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, .779 OPS
July: 8-4, 3.22 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .619 OPS

That’s not a good showing, it’s great showing from the starting staff in July. It was one of the best performances by a starting staff in the American League for the month and one of the better one-month showings by a Tribe rotation in the past 50 years (as you’ll read below).

Here is a look at the month that was for the Indians…

Record: 15-10
Home: 12-4
Road: 3-6

AL Central standings as of Aug. 1:

1. Tigers 61-45 (–)
2. Indians 59-48 (2.5)
3. Royals 53-51 (7)
4. Twins 45-59 (15)
5. White Sox 40-65 (20.5)

Offense (AL rank)

.257 average (8)
.335 on-base (4)
.390 slugging (9)
.725 OPS (8)
117 runs (5)
212 hits (9)
40 doubles (9)
2 triples (t-9)
22 home runs (11)
112 RBI (5)
92 walks (3)
173 strikeouts (9)
15 stolen bases (9)
64 extra-base hits (t-10)
322 total bases (10)

Notes: The Indians turned in a unique July in terms of run production and patience. This marked only the fourth time since the start of the 2000 season that Cleveland ended July with at least 15 stolen bases, 90 walks and 115 runs scored. The Tribe also did so in July in 2004, 2001 and 2000. I limited the monthly search to July due to the All-Star break.

Pitching (AL rank)

15 wins (t-3)
3.43 ERA (5)
3.22 rot. ERA (2)
3.88 bullpen ERA (10)
9 saves (t-4)
223 innings (11)
187 hits (2)
94 runs (5)
85 earned runs (4)
14 home runs (1)
87 walks (14)
188 strikeouts (t-7)
.226 average (2)
1.23 WHIP (4)

Notes: This was one of the better months for an Indians pitching staff over the past five decades. It marked the first time since August of 1968 that a Cleveland staff ended any one month with at least 15 wins and 188 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.45 or better and an opponents’ batting average under .230. Dating back to 1969, the only other months with 15 wins, a 3.45 ERA or better and an opponents’ average under .230 by a Tribe staff were May 1989 and June 1971. This marked the first time since August of 1988 that an Indians staff had no more than 14 homers yielded with at least 200 innings logged.

INDIANS PLAYER HONORS

Player of the month: LF Michael Brantley
Stats: .318/.396/.482/.878, 2 HR, 6 2B, 1 3B, 13 RBI, 10 BB, 8 K, 15 R, 27 H, 24 games

Notes: Dating back to the start of the 2000 season, only four Indians players have enjoyed a month with at least nine extra-base hits, 10 walks, 27 hits and no more than eight strikeouts. Prior to Brantley this July, the others to achieve that feat for Cleveland were Victor Martinez (April 2009, June 2004), Omar Vizquel (Apri 2002, July 2000) and Kenny Lofton (August 2000).

Previous 2013 winners: C Carlos Santana (co-winner, April), INF Mark Reynolds (co-winner, April), 2B Jason Kipnis (May, June)

Pitcher of the month: LHP Scott Kazmir
Stats: 2-0, 2.75 ERA, 36 IP, 27 K, 11 BB, 1.03 WHIP, .198 AVG, 6 starts

Notes: Kazmir is the first Indians left-hander to piece together a month with at least 35 innings, an ERA of 2.75 or better and an opponents’ batting average under .200 since Cliff Lee accomplished the feat in April 2008. The last Cleveland pitcher to do so was right-hander Justin Masterson in July 2011.

Previous 2013 winners: Masterson (April, May), RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (June)

Reliever of the month: RHP Chris Perez
Stats: 2-0, 0.60 ERA, 8 saves, 15 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, 0.93 WHIP, .200 AVG, 14 games

Notes: Perez has been dominant since coming off the disabled list, following a bout with a right shoulder injury. In fact, there is only one other reliever in Indians history to have a month with at least eight saves to go along with an ERA of 0.60 or better and a WHIP under 1.00. Besides Perez in July, Jose Mesa also accomplished that feat in August 1995.

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Joe Smith (April), RHP Cody Allen (May), RHP Vinnie Pestano (June)

Game of the month (hitter): Brantley, July 7, during 9-6 win over Tigers
Stat line: 3-for-5 with 2 HR, 3 XBH, 3 R, 5 RBI, 10 TB

Notes: Brantley became the first Indians hitter to have at least two homers, three runs, five RBI and 10 total bases in one game since Shin-Soo Choo did so vs. Kansas City on Sept. 17, 2010. The last player do it against Detroit was Travis Hafner on Juy 4, 2005. You have to to all the way back to Carlos Baerga on June 17, 1993 to find another Tribesmen with that stat line, plus three extra-base hits, in a game against the Tigers.

Game of the month (pitcher): Kazmir, July 24, during 10-1 win over Mariners
Stat line: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 83 Game score

Notes: This marked the first time in Kazmir’s career that he turned in eight innings with no more than one hit surrendered. He only has two career games with at least seven innings and one hit allowed, and both came this season. He became the first Tribe lefty to give up no more than one hit in at least eight innings since Billy Traber did so vs. the Yankees on July 8, 2003. Rick Waits previously accomplished the same feat on April 7, 1979 against the Red Sox. The last righty to go at least eight innings with only one hit allowed for Cleveland was Kevin Millwood on May 9, 2005 against the Angels.

—————————————————————

MINOR LEAGUE STANDOUTS FOR JULY

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: 3B Ryan Rohlinger
Stats: .318/.402/.400/.802, 1 HR, 4 2B, 5 RBI, 11 BB, 12 R, 27 H, 25 games

Previous 2013 winners: OF Jeremy Hermida (April), Phelps (May, June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Danny Salazar
Stats: 2-0, 0.82 ERA, 22 IP, 31 K, 2 BB, 0.68 WHIP, .176 AVG, 5 games

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Preston Guilmet (April, June), RHP Carlos Carrasco (May)

Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: OF Carlos Moncrief
Stats: .317/.377/.574/.951, 4 HR, 6 2B, 4 3B, 21 RBI, 19 R, 32 H, 26 games

Previous 2013 winners: 1B/DH Chun Chen (April), C Roberto Perez (May), Moncrief (June)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Matt Packer
Stats: 4-1, 2.83 ERA, 35 IP, 33 K, 8 BB, 1.17 WHIP, .252, 6 games

Previous 2013 winners: LHP T.J. House (April), RHP Jose Flores (May), Packer (June)

Class A (high) Carolina

Player of the Month: 3B Paddy Matera
Stats: .329/.480/.553/1.033, 3 HR, 8 2B, 17 RBI, 14 BB, 21 R, 25 H, 24 games

Previous 2013 winners: SS Francisco Lindor (April), OF Luigi Rodriguez (May), 2B Joe Wendle (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cody Anderson
Stats: 2-0, 2.25 ERA, 28 IP, 21 K, 7 BB, 1.18 WHIP, .263 AVG, 5 games

Previous 2013 winners: Anderson (April, May, June)

Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: 1B Joseph Sever
Stats: .318/.353/.542/.896, 5 HR, 7 2B, 41 3B, 24 RBI, 19 R, 34 H, 26 games

Previous 2013 winners: OF Logan Vick (April), OF LeVon Washington (May), 2B Yhoxian Medina (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP D.J. Brown
Stats: 1.76 ERA, 15.1 IP, 17 K, 1 BB, 0.72 WHIP, .192 AVG, 8 games

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Michael Peoples (April), LHP Ryan Merritt (May), RHP Josh Martin (June)

Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley

Player of the Month: 1B Nellie Rodriguez
Stats: .383/.431/.673/1.104, 7 HR, 10 2B, 21 RBI, 15 R, 41 H, 29 games

Previous 2013 winners: INF Claudio Bautista (June)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Kyle Crockett
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 8.1 IP, 15 K, 2 BB, 0.84 WHIP, .161 AVG, 7 games

Previous 2013 winners: LHP Harold Guerrero (June)

Arizona League (Rookie) Indians

Player of the Month: OF Clint Frazier
Stats: .300/.354/.529/.883, 2 HR, 4 2B, 3 3B, 12 RBI, 13 R, 21 H, 18 games

Previous 2013 winners: Frazier (June)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Sean Brady
Stats: 1.38 ERA, 13 IP, 13 K, 2 BB, 0.92 WHIP, .217 AVG, 5 games

Previous 2013 winners: LHP Anderson Polanco (June)

Dominican Summer League (Rookie) Indians

Player of the Month: OF Hector Caro
Stats: .348/.375/.435/.810, 4 2B, 9 RBI, 7 R, 16 H, 14 games

Previous 2013 winners: 2B Erlin Cerda (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Francisco Lopez
Stats: 3.66 ERA, 19.2 IP, 23 K, 10 BB, 1.32 WHIP, .219 AVG, 5 games

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Edward Estrella (June)

Previously…

Month in review: June
Month in review: May
Month in review: April

–JB

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