In a pitching matchup that is common in many major league games in September, two relief pitchers will start Thursday night as the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals play the opener of a regular season-ending four-game series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin (2-5, 6.44 ERA) will start for the AL Central-winning Indians (89-69). Glenn Sparkman (0-3, 4.86) will make only his third start in 17 major league appearances for the Royals (56-102).
Though Sparkman has pitched mostly in relief in the big leagues, he has started 62 of 97 games in the minor leagues and is on a long list of candidates for a spot in the Royals’ 2019 rotation.
In 12 relief appearances for Kansas City this year, Sparkman is 0-2 with a 4.62 ERA. He has made two starts and is 0-1, 5.63. His last appearance came as a reliever in an 11-8 Royals loss to Detroit in which he pitched four innings, allowing two runs and five hits.
Sparkman’s last start was a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Aug. 21. The right-hander pitched four innings, giving up three runs and seven hits, with five strikeouts and three walks.
Thursday will be his first career appearance against Cleveland.
Tomlin, 33, made six early-season starts before being moved to the Cleveland bullpen. In 23 relief appearances, he is 2-2 with a 4.55 ERA. In eight starts, he is 0-3, 7.82.
Tomlin’s last appearance was a relief stint against Boston on Sunday in which he pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and picking up the win in a 4-3 Cleveland victory.
His last start came Sept. 20, when he got a no-decision in a 5-4 Indians loss to the White Sox. In that game, Tomlin pitched four innings, allowing four runs and eight hits, with two strikeouts and no walks.
Tomlin’s only appearance against the Royals this year was as a reliever Aug. 25, when he pitched one inning, giving up one run and three hits, with no strikeouts and no walks.
The last time Tomlin started a game against the Royals was Sept. 14, 2017, when he got a no-decision in a 3-2 Indians win. In that game he pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits, with four strikeouts and one walk.
In 26 career appearances (21 starts) against Kansas City, Tomlin is 10-5 with a 3.93 ERA.
Cleveland leads the season series 10-5.
Source: Fox Sports