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Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins series preview

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One team is in first place in the AL Central. The other is the Minnesota Twins. This feels much better to type.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Cleveland Indians started a series with the Minnesota Twins, they were sitting two games back of first place. Now, a week later, the Indians begin a new series with the Twins and now sit in the driver’s seat, up 2.5 games on second place Minnesota.

After getting curb stomped by Cleveland, Minnesota took two of three from the scuffling Chciago White Sox. After this weekend series with the Tribe, the Twins will head to Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox. Cleveland, on the other hand, just finished a brilliant road trip in which they won seven out eight games against the Twins and the Baltimore Orioles. After this weekend series at home, the Indians will welcome the Texas Rangers to Progressive Field for a four-game set.

Pitching matchups

Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Adalberto Mejia (LHP) vs. Trevor Bauer (RHP)

Our good friend Adalberto takes the mound Friday night and he is probably not looking forward to having to face the Indians so soon after his last outing. Mejia himself did alright against the Tribe on June 17, allowing just two earned runs over 4.2 innings on five hits while walking three and striking out two, but he saw Cleveland carve through the rest of the Twins pitching and probably doesn’t want to be the next victim. As mentioned last time, Adalberto is not having a great season; in just 40.2 innings of work, Mejia has allowed 25 earned runs while walking 22 and striking out 36 (good for an ERA+ of 81). He uses a fastball (93 mph), slider (84 mph), and a sinker/change combo.

Trevor Bauer, on the other hand, is probably eager to face the Twins again after his most recent outing. On June 18, Bauer tore through the Twins lineup to the tune of 7.0 innings, two runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking two. Bauer has had an inconsistent year, but he’s trending in the right direction, which is a good sign. On the year, Bauer has allowed 46 earned runs in 74.2 innings while walking 30 and striking out 89 (good for an ERA+ of 86).

Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET: Kyle Gibson (RHP) vs. Corey Kluber (RHP)

Kyle Gibson did well the last time he faced Cleveland, but Trevor Bauer was better. His start on June 18 went 6.0 innings and he allowed three earned runs on eight hits while walking three and striking out four. He gave up a pair of home runs, so be on the lookout for the Edwing.

Overall in 2017, Gibson has been somewhat of a train wreck for the Twins; in 60.1 innings, Gibson has allowed 44 earned runs while walking 29 and striking out 43 (good for an ERA+ of 68). Gibson will rely primarily on his 92 mph sinker as well as utilizing a 4-seam fastball (92 mph), slider (84 mph), curve (80 mph) and change (84 mph).

Corey Kluber is pitching, so you better tune in. The man is back to being his old Cy Young self again as evidenced by his most recent destruction of the Orioles. On June 19, Kluber shut down the Orioles for 9 innings and allowed only three hits while walking no one and striking out 11. Whew lad. On the season, Kluber has thrown 65.1 innings and has allowed 26 earned runs while walking 17 and striking out 80 (good for an ERA+ of 133)

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. ET: Ervin Santana (RHP) vs. Josh Tomlin (RHP)

In the last four game series, the Indians were lucky enough to miss Ervin Santana. This time around, they aren’t so lucky. The 34-year-old is having an incredible season and is definitely the best part about an otherwise bad Twins rotation. He is human, however; in his last start (June 20 against the White Sox), Santana got roughed up for six runs over 5.0 innings on 10 hits while walking two and striking out six.

In his four starts so far in June, Santana has given up multiple home runs in three of them, so hopefully that is the case on Sunday. But don’t be fooled by his recent misstep, Santana is on fire this season. In 100.0 innings, Santana has allowed just 33 earned runs and has walked 36 while striking out 74 (good for an ERA+ of 149). His two main pitches are his fastball (93 mph) and his slider (85 mph) while also peppering in a sinker (92 mph) and change (86 mph)

I’m sure that you probably aren’t happy that Josh Tomlin is pitching again, but you may need to get used to it. Tomlin is probably going to be in the Indians rotation for a while, and that’s not the worst thing in the world. Yes, his last game on June 20 against Baltimore where he lasted just 4.2 innings and gave up five earned runs on eight hits while walking no one and striking out five was kind of a nightmare, but he’s a No. 5 starter. That’s what No. 5 starters do, they often pitch poorly. On the year, Tomlin has allowed 51 earned runs in 75.2 innings while walking six and striking out 56 (good for an ERA+ of 78).

Storylines

Which member of the Cleveland Indians will get a mini-me version next?

So far, Jose Ramirez and Carlos Carrasco have miniature baseball versions of themselves and they are both playing extremely well since their creation. Is it a coincidence? Of course not, this is devil magic that cannot be explained. Which player will have an idol made in their image next and why don’t they all already have one?

Can the hot hitting continue?

Over the past eight games, the bats have come alive. In the most recent series’ against Minnesota and Baltimore, the Indians have scored a whopping 56 runs, or an average of 7 runs per game. With that sort of run support, even a Josh Tomlin start shouldn’t feel too scary.

Why is Andrew Miller a cheat code?

Drop Andrew Miller into a game and you’re basically telling the other team that you tire of them and wish them to end what they’re doing right this very instant. How many pitchers can you throw into a bases loaded, no out situation and feel comfortable? In 37.2 innings so far this year, Miller has allowed just 6 earned runs and he’s struck out 54. Miller recently has been trading places with Cody Allen in the ninth inning to lessen his workload, but trust Tito to deploy his fireman whenever the situation calls for it.

Minnesota Twins roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    3
    (49 votes)
  • 67%
    2
    (114 votes)
  • 2%
    1
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (2 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now