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Series preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox

The Indians kick off their 2016 season against the Red Sox and their newly acquired ace, David Price. Can they avoid their historically bad April starts with Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley on the disabled list?

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is finally back! After a lengthy spring training and an offseason that seemed like it dragged on forever, the Cleveland Indians are ready to start their 2016 season. They will be doing so against the Boston Red Sox, a team that should also be competing for at least a Wild Card spot. Assuming weather does not get in the way, the two teams will face off this afternoon, take a day off on Tuesday, then wrap up the series on Wednesday and Thursday.

Matchups

  • Monday, 4:10 p.m. EST: David Price (LHP) vs. Corey Kluber (RHP)
  • Wednesday, 6:10 p.m. EST: Clay Buchholz (RHP)  vs. Carlos Carrasco (RHP)
  • Thursday, 6:10 p.m. EST: Joe Kelly (RHP) vs. Danny Salazar (RHP)
In theory, the Indians should have a huge pitching advantage in games two and three. Anything can happen over the course of a game, but on paper, the combination of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar should trump Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly any day.

Upcoming schedule: Following this series, the Indians head out on a six-game road trip against the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays before returning home to face the New York Mets.

Team in a Box (2015 stats)

Boston Red Sox

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2015 Record

78-84

R/G

4.62

4th

RA/G

--

--

AL Central

5th

OBP

.325

3rd

HR/9

1.11

12th

Last 10

6-4

SLG

.415

6th

BB/9

2.97

10th

Streak

L4

Steals

71

9th

SO/9

7.57

9th

The Red Sox's most glaring weakness last season was their starting pitching. They went out and addressed that by signing David Price to a huge deal, but it may not be enough. Behind Price, the rotation is still shaky. The Boston offense should be just as good as it was last season, even if Pablo Sandoval is not the starting third baseman (probably even better because of it).

Projected lineup

  • Mookie Betts, CF
  • Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  • David Ortiz, DH
  • Xander Bogarts, SS
  • Hanley Ramirez, 1B
  • Travis Shaw, 3B
  • Brock Holt, OF
  • Blake Swihart, C
  • Jackie Bradley, OF
The top half of the Red Sox lineup remains as devastating as it was last year. Mookie Betts is making himself into a legitimate star after a 4.8 fWAR season in 2015, Dustin Pedroia is finally aging but he still got on base at a .356 clip last season, and David Ortiz is still a huge power threat having hit 37 home runs last season. Youngsters Xander Bogarts and Jackie Bradley Jr. will help round out a lineup that could be one of the best in the majors.

With the injuries currently plaguing the Indians, it will mostly be up to the starting rotation to shut down Sox lineup before it can get going. If it comes down to a shootout, the Red Sox will win out almost every time.