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Jose Fernandez: Indians and Cubs the “two toughest lineups I’ve faced”

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Jose Fernandez had some high praise for the Tribe lineup after Saturday’s loss.

Miami Marlins v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

You never know might happen in a post-game clubhouse. Maybe it will be some ca-ray-zay antics, or some smack talk on the other team or maybe some towel... snapping? (Ok, I’ve never been in a major league clubhouse, I have no idea what goes on). But maybe, like in this case, it will be some praise for the opponent that just handed you your worst loss of the season.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, unquestionably one of the best young pitchers in baseball, was absolutely tagged by the Cleveland Indians Saturday night. They tallied four extra-base hits before even settling for a single, and by the time the dust settled they had scored six runs off of 12 hits.

The 24-year-old recognized the shellacking in an interview with FOX Sports Miami following the game:

In particular, Fernandez was asked if the Indians were the toughest lineup he’s faced this season. He shrugged the question off with a laugh and politely declined to answer. But he did eventually admit that the Tribe lineup, along with the Chicago Cubs’, was the toughest he’s faced in 2016.

These guys and the Cubs, I think are the two toughest lineups I’ve faced.

Now, there is no real reason to take this statement and overanalyze it. He answered a question in his interview off the top of his head. But, just for fun, I wanted to see if the Indians really were the toughest lineup he has faced along with the Cubs.

To date, here is who Fernandez has faced in his 26 starts, in the order he faced them:

His worst outing was bar none the beating he took Saturday night. His six earned runs allowed was tied for a season-high, but the last time he allowed so many runners to cross the plate — July 2 against the Atlanta Braves — he struck out eight, at least. The five strikeouts against the Tribe was also tied for a season-low for Fernandez.

As for the individual teams, is Fernandez right in assessing the Indians as the most difficult lineup he’s faced? We cannot really know what Fernandez considers difficult — just because a lineup is good over a full season does not mean they were particularly good when they played the Marlins, and it also does not mean that Fernandez had much trouble with them.

What we can know, however, is how the Indians rank amongst the teams that Fernandez has faced in some key categories:

  • OBP: Indians are 4th (.330)
  • SLG: Indians are 2nd (.446)
  • wRC+: Indians are 4th (103)
  • R/G: Indians are 2nd (4.93)

The Indians trail the Cubs in just about everything except for slugging percentage — the Cardinals take top honors there — so, objectively, Fernandez’s assessment is pretty straight on. Fernandez has not faced a couple other great offenses such as the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, or Baltimore Orioles.

Right or wrong in his assessment (and I am leaning towards right), the Indians were clearly a great lineup last night, as they have been so many times this season. Now it’s time to do it for the next two months.