Cleveland starters have lasted five full innings in only six of the team's last 13 games, posting a 6.14 ERA in that span. Not surprisingly, the early holes the starters have put the Indians in have had a direct correlation to the team's success, as Cleveland is 4-9 in those games.
Justin Masterson -- who contributed to the rotation woes by lasting just 4 1/3 innings in his last start -- gets the call Friday in the Indians' series opener against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Masterson begins the club's final road trip of the season -- three games in Kansas City before another three in Chicago -- looking to match his career high in wins, which he set last year with 12. The right-hander has struggled of late, posting a 6.87 ERA in his last 10 starts. He lost his lone start of the season against Kansas City on May 29.
The setback was one of a handful for the Indians against the Royals this year. Kansas City holds a 7-5 edge in the season series with six games to play and enters Friday's opener having won five straight against its division rivals.
The Royals will look to Luis Mendoza to continue that dominance Friday, as the righty returns to the rotation after missing a start earlier this week with strep throat. Mendoza hasn't pitched since Sept. 13, when he allowed only one run on a solo home run to the Twins.
The Royals have won six of Mendoza's past nine starts. The first in that stretch came against the Indians on Aug. 1, when Mendoza held Cleveland to two runs in 7 1/3 innings.
Indians: Rottino getting chance
The Indians have been giving 32-year-old Vinny Rottino a look this month, and thus far they are impressed with what they have seen. Rottino, a corner outfielder and first baseman, hit .291 with five home runs at Triple-A Columbus after being claimed off waivers from the Mets in June.
"We like what he brings," manager Manny Acta said. "He's very versatile and plays hard. He does all those little things that help you win games -- things you can't teach."
Designated hitter Travis Hafner, who was activated from the disabled list Wednesday (back), likely will play three times per week down the stretch.
Royals: Class A club moving to Lexington
The Royals have signed a four-year player development contract through 2016 with the Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League. The Legends will replace the previous Royals' Low-A team, the Kane County Cougars, who are now affiliated with the Chicago Cubs. The Royals' new squad will play in a Whitaker Bank Ballpark, which holds 6,006 and used to host a team in the Astros' farm system.
Masterson allowed eight runs (seven earned) and struck out eight in six innings in his only other start against the Royals this season.