The surest sign that spring has arrived in northeast Ohio will come from the sights and sounds emanating from Progressive Field today.
The Cleveland Indians opened the 2012 season at home against the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon at 3:05 p.m.
The Indians enter this season as one of the great unknowns of Major League Baseball. Few changes have been made to the roster compared to last season and that leaves fans wondering what they will see from this team.
Will they see the team that roared out to the best record in baseball during the season’s first two months; 30-15 record with a seven game lead in the AL Central? Or will they see the team that faded in the second half of the season to finish at 80-82.
The answer to that question may lie with the Tribe’s starting pitching.
Veteran Derek Lowe was brought in to stabilize the middle of the rotation, while youngster Jeanmar Gomez earned a spot as the fifth starter. Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Tomlin will occupy the second and fourth spots in the rotation respectively.
The workhorse of the rotation is expected to be the Indians opening day starter, 27-year-old Justin Masterson.
Masterson at times last year looked like one of the best young right-handers in the American League, ultimately posting a 12-10 record with a 3.21 ERA. The Indians finished 20-14 in games he started.
Masterson will face left-hander Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays on Thursday. Romero went 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA last season.
The Indians have lost their last three home openers after winning their previous three.