Wow. The series finale in the Astros’ series was wild. After the bullpen imploded in the first two games, they held things together in game three only to completely lose it in the finale on Sunday. Thankfully, the offense stepped up in a big way to get the extra innings win, which gave the Indians a split for the four-game series. Now, the Tribe welcomes the Chicago White Sox for three games.
After this three-game series, the Tribe flies out to Target Field to take on the Minnesota Twins for four games. They’ll then have a day off before heading back to Cleveland to welcome the Milwaukee Brewers for a quick two-game set. The White Sox, on the other hand, will take on the Tribe’s next two opponents in reverse order; they’ll host the Brewers for three games before flying to Minneapolis to take on the Twins four games.
Monday, May 28 4:10 p.m. ET: Dylan Covey (RHP) v. Adam Plutko (RHP)
Dylan Covey was drafted by the Brewers in 2010 but he didn’t sign. He was then drafted by the Athletics in 2013 and was in their minor league system until he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2017. He made his MLB debut last season and, in his 70.0 innings of work, did not do well. In the two games Covey has pitched this season, he has looked better than he did last season. Across 13.0 innings, Covey has allowed 5 earned runs while walking 4 and striking out 11 (which translates to an ERA+ of 122). His mid-90s sinker is his main pitch and it gets a lot of hitters to swing and miss and his upper-80s slider gets batters to pop up frequently. His last start came on May 23 against the Baltimore Orioles; in that game, Covey went 7.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 8.
Adam Plutko has secured a spot in the Cleveland rotation for the foreseeable future and he’s been doing extremely well in his new role. He’s only pitched in two games this year, but they’ve been leagues better than whatever Josh Tomlin was doing every fifth day. This season, Plutko has pitched in 13.1 innings and has allowed 3 earned runs while walking 4 and striking out 10 (which translates to an ERA+ of 226). His most recent start came on May 23 against the Chicago Cubs; in that game, Plutko went 6.0 innings and allowed zero earned runs on 2 hits while walking 4 and striking out 4.
Tuesday, May 29 6:10 p.m. ET: Lucas Giolito (RHP) v. Mike Clevinger (RHP)
Lucas Giolito did poorly with the Washington Nationals in his first MLB season back in 2016. He then found his way to Chicago and seemed to be a brand new pitcher. His WHIP, H/9, HR/9, and BB/9 were all way down while his K/9 was slightly up. However, while his ERA looked good, his FIP indicated that all may not be okay going forward and that Giolito may eventually come crashing back to earth. Crash he did in 2018. So far this season, Giolito has pitched in 49.0 innings and has allowed 41 earned runs while walking 37 and striking out 27 (which translates to an ERA+ of 55). His fourseam is nothing special, but his slider can generate a bunch of ground balls while his changeup and curve can get hitters to fly out if he can find the strike zone. His most recent start came on May 24 against the Baltimore Orioles; in that game, Giolito went just 1.1 innings and allowed 7 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 3 and striking out no one.
So Mike Clevinger is really good (last start notwithstanding). He’s been half of the 2A-B pair with Trevor Bauer and he’s played a critical role for the Indians so far this season. Across the 65.0 innings he’s thrown this year, Clevinger has allowed 24 earned runs while walking 21 and striking out 54 (which translates to an ERA+ of 135). His most recent start came on May 24 against the Houston Astros; in that game, Clevinger went 5.1 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 3 and striking out 4.
Wednesday, May 30 1:10 p.m. ET: Reynaldo Lopez (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)
Similar to his teammate Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez wasn’t pitching well with the Washington Nationals in 2016 and then started to improve after getting to Chicago in 2017. He improved slightly last season, but he’s taken a huge step forward so far in 2018. In the 61.1 innings he’s pitched so far, Lopez has allowed 20 earned runs while walking 26 and striking out 42 (which translates to an ERA+ of 140). His fastball can run up into the upper-90s, and his cutter has great movement that gets a lot of swings and misses. His most recent start came on May 25 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Lopez went 7.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 3 and striking out 3.
Corey Kluber continues to pitch like the ace he is and, if he continues his current trend of dominant pitching, could be in the running for his third Cy Young award. So far this season, Kluber has pitched 78.2 innings and has allowed just 19 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 78 (which translates to an ERA+ of 207). His most recent start came on May 25 against the Houston Astros; in that game, Kluber went 6.1 innings and allowed zero earned runs on 7 hits while walking no one and striking out 7. I won’t go into how the rest of the game unfolded.
Players to watch
- Jose Abreu - As Miguel Cabrera’s career continues to wind down, another power hitting first baseman has taken up his mantle in the AL Central, and that’s Jose Abreu. Cabrera haunted the Cleveland Indians for years, and now it’s Abreu’s turn. In 2018, Abreu is in the middle of arguably his best season since his rookie year. Over his 216 plate appearances, Jose Abreu owns a slash line of .313/.375/.549 (which translates to a wRC+ of 150). All of his numbers are right in line with his career norms except for his K%, which is down slightly. All signs point to Abreu being a pain during this series.
- Yoan Moncada - Moncada had a taste of the majors in 2016 with the Red Sox, but he was awful then. Now, since changing the color of his Sox, he’s done much better. Over 189 plate appearances this season, Moncada has a slash line of .247/.330/.452 (which translates to a wRC+ of 114). He’s still striking out way too much (33.9%), but otherwise he’s having a great year.
- Jace Fry - Fry, in his limited time this season, has been absolutely dominant for the Sox out of the bullpen. He’s allowed just five base runners (2 hits, 3 walks) across 10.0 innings and he’s struck out 12. He’s got a great sinker and slider that both generate fly balls or swings and misses.
HEY BULLPEN, WHAT IS GOING ON
The Cleveland bullpen, in the last series against Houston, pitched in 16.1 innings and allowed 20 earned runs. Thanks to the offense and the starting pitching, the Tribe was able to salvage a split against the defending World Series champs. The bullpen needs to get right, one way or another. I’m not sure what the solution is, but whatever is going on now needs to stop before the rotation’s arms all fall off.
That’s it. That’s the story of this series. The White Sox are a terrible team right now. If the bullpen can’t keep their lineup in check, then they can be launched into the stratosphere.
Chicago White Sox roster
How many games will not be ruined by the Cleveland Indians bullpen?
This poll is closed