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Rockies vs. Indians series preview: Q&A with Let’s Go Tribe, probable pitchers, game times, and more

Matt Lyons of Let’s Go Tribe helps us preview the upcoming series with the defending American League champions

The first-place Colorado Rockies are 36-23 and are nursing a one-game lead in the National League West over the Los Angeles Dodgers. After taking yet another series, this time from the Padres in San Diego, the Rockies return home for a brief two-game set with the defending American League Champions, the Cleveland Indians.

The Rockies and Indians have matched up 21 times since interleague play began in 1998 and own an all-time record of 10-11, even though they’ve outscored the Tribe 102-98. Cleveland is 2-7 all-time at Coors Field, and they got swept in their last visit back in June 16-18, 2008. The last time the two teams played, the Indians swept the Rockies out of Progressive Field May 30 to June 1, 2014.

We asked Matt Lyons, of our SBNation partner site Let’s Go Tribe, to answer some questions to help preview the first of two two-game series (the teams meet up in Cleveland August 8-9).

The Indians won the American League pennant last year and came tantalizingly close to winning it all. What’s it been like for the team and fanbase this season? Still some lingering regret or a bit of a hangover effect? Or has it emboldened everybody for this year?

I think most of us got over the initial wave of despair after the first couple weeks, although I still haven’t rewatched anything besides Rajai Davis’s home run in game seven. I don’t think I ever will, and that’s probably more than a lot of Indians fans have rewatched. It’s a nice repressed memory that will grow into an ulcer and kill us all one day, but no we’re completely over it.

As for the team, they don’t seem like the kind of bunch to suffer from winning hangovers. If they were, I trust Terry Francona to set them straight, as he did over the weekend. One of the reasons I wasn’t worried about them losing Mike Napoli in the offseason is because there are already so many great leaders in the clubhouse -- Jason Kipnis especially, but Francisco Lindor has come into his own as a leader as well.

The Indians also weren’t much better at this point last season, so it’s hard to be panicked already. Just don’t tell that to our Twitter followers.

Cleveland is currently sitting at 29-26 and, even if they aren’t currently in first place, have some overwhelming playoff odds. Who has been carrying the team so far, other than Francisco Lindor’s smile?

Definitely the bullpen. The rotation has had its ups and downs, the offense has bad for long stretches of time, but the bullpen has been outstanding. Andrew Miller is still Andrew Miller, Cody Allen might be having his best season at closer ever, and Bryan Shaw has only given me a heart attack a handful of times. Even the role players like Nick Goody and Zach McAllister have been surprisingly effective. The bullpen only stands to get better with Danny Salazar joining them slinging 97 mile per hour fastballs, too.

Also, Francisco Lindor’s smile. I don’t care if it’s forbidden in the question, I have assumed direct control of this Q&A and I’m saying Francisco Lindor’s smile.

Last year the team rode some stellar starting pitching--Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar--to their division title. This year it seems like the rotation isn’t quite up to where it was. What’s going on and who have been the biggest culprits?

Injuries have been a big issue so far. Kluber had a couple of them, missed a month, and returned looking great. Danny Salazar’s problem is just regression hitting like a bus. He played way over his head for the first half of last season, tailed off at the end. And now this year he was pretty awful before his move to the ‘pen. Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin are always a mixed bag, and I expect the former will get absolutely lit up in Coors Field, unfortunately.

Mike Clevinger, Tuesday’s starter, has been slowly growing into his potential. Wicked stuff with some control issues. And great hair. Can’t forget the hair.

Mike Clevinger has been a bit of a surprise. What was his expected role coming in, how has he had the success he’s had so far, and is it reasonable to expect it to continue?

I swear I wasn’t reading ahead, I had no idea this was the next question. I think he’s still really under the radar, but that won’t last long. He projected as a No. 3 starter throughout the minors and he could easily still land there with the Indians. He has a lot of issues with walks, but when he’s on he can be unhittable, like he almost was earlier this season against the Astros, of all teams. I don’t think he’ll be quite a 3.10-ERA pitcher like he is now, but I’m very excited about him. When he first came up I think I filled the front page twice over with nothing but Mike Clevinger articles, so he better be good.

How can Trevor Bauer be so good (11.9 K/9) and yet so bad (5.83 ERA)?

A mix of bad luck and being really really bad multiple times through the order. It’s the weirdest thing with Bauer, he’ll go from looking like an ace the first two times through then the third time -- always the third time -- he implodes. More than a normal pitcher, mind you.

He’s also had a couple double-digit strikeout games this season surrounded by high-run clunkers.

What--or who--else do you hope Rockies fans know about this year’s Cleveland Indians?

Oh I like this question. I guess I would want Rockies fans to know that we all hate the Dodgers, too. Because who doesn’t?

★ ★ ★

Probable Pitchers and Schedule

Tuesday, June 6 @ 6:40 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports, KOA)

Mike Clevinger (2-2, 3.10 ERA) vs. Antonio Senzatela (7-2, 3.49 ERA)

In three of his last four starts, Senzatela has gone just five innings while allowing four runs in each, including last Wednesday in Seattle. In between, though, he has a eight-inning masterpiece in which he allowed zero runs on five hits to the Cardinals. He’ll hope to recapture the latter performance on Tuesday night in Coors.

Wednesday, June 7 @ 1:10 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports, KOA)

Trevor Bauer (5-4, 5.83 ERA) vs. German Marquez (4-3, 4.53 ERA)

Since getting called up on April 25 to replace Jon Gray in the rotation, German Marquez has more or less alternated fantastic starts with middling ones. He lowered his ERA in four straight starts from May 10 to 28, but got knocked around in San Diego on Friday, allowing six runs on eight hits in five innings. He did strike out nine, which goes to show that he possesses the ability to dominate hitters, but needs to limit hard contact (three starts with two home runs allowed this season).

★ ★ ★

Thanks again to Matt Lyons of Let’s Go Tribe. You can follow Matt on Twitter, @mattrly, and you can follow Let’s Go Tribe, @letsgotribe.