After bashing on the White Sox for three games, the Indians head to Target Field to face the Minnesota Twins for a four-game weekend series. The Twins are the team that poses the largest “threat” to Cleveland’s 2018 AL Central championship aspirations, so this series will be a great opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the...third place Twins? I honestly didn’t realize that the Tigers were in second place. Huh.
After the Tribe finishes up in Minnesota, they’ll head back to Cleveland for a quick two-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers before flying to Comerica Park to play the Tigers for three games. The Twins, on the other hand, will finish up with Cleveland and then will welcome the White Sox and then the Angels to Target Field for a pair of three-game sets.
Thursday, May 31 8:10 p.m. ET: Shane Bieber (RHP) v. Jake Odorizzi (RHP)
IT’S BIEBER TIME!!!! There will be plenty of analysis on Bieber later today on this site, so keep an eye out for that. But you should be excited for the debut of the precision right-hander for a lot of reasons. He currently has a 1.05 ERA at the AAA level, for example. He’s only walked 2 batters across 34.1 innings. His fastball won’t blow anyone away, but he’s able to mix that with his secondary pitches in order to get batters out. If you can only watch one game in this series, make it this one because of Bieber.
It’s been a good year so far for Jake Odorizzi. He’s having a career year and has emerged as the ace of the Twins staff. In 59.1 innings, Odorizzi has allowed 22 earned runs while walking 24 and striking out 58 (which translates to an ERA+ of 126). His fastball and his sinker work well in terms of getting hitters to swing and miss, and all of his pitches can induce weak fly balls for easy outs. His most recent start came on May 26 against the Seattle Mariners; in that game, Odorizzi went 5.1 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3.
Friday, June 1 8:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) v. Jose Berrios (RHP)
Carlos Carrasco has cooled off since his blazing hot start to the season. With that being said, 3 of his 5 starts in May were quality starts, so he’s still pitching well for the Indians despite not being Corey Kluber 2.0. Across 72.1 innings so far this season, Cookie has allowed 32 earned runs while walking 16 and striking out 71 (which translates to an ERA+ of 114). His most recent start came on May 26 against the Houston Astros; in that game, Carrasco went 5.2 innings and allowed 5 runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8.
Jose Berrios continues to be a young, exciting pitcher for the Twins who will be part of the new core of Minnesota for years to come. He had a solid season last year and has improved in virtually every respect here in 2018. Across 68.2 innings, Berrios has allowed 28 earned runs while walking 13 and striking out 67 (which translates to an ERA+ 114). He’s a fly ball pitcher, using his fourseam and curveball to pop hitters up while using his sinker to induce ground balls. His most recent start came on May 27 against the Seattle Mariners; in that game, Berrios went 7.1 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 1 and striking out 8.
Saturday, June 2 4:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) v. Lance Lynn (RHP)
Trevor Bauer continues to have a career year for the Tribe. His ERA, FIP, WHIP, H/9, and HR/9 are all down while his K/9 are up. In short, he’s putting it all together. In 72.1 innings so far this season, Bauer has allowed 21 earned runs while walking 25 and striking out 86 (which translates to an ERA+ of 174). His last start came on May 27 against the Houston Astros; in that game, Bauer went 7.1 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out a season high 13.
Lance Lynn has been some kind of terrible this season. After missing all of 2016 recovering from TJ surgery, he pitched incredibly well in 2017. This season, he has not enjoyed the same success. Across 50.0 innings of work, Lynn has allowed 33 earned runs while walking 33 and striking out 50 (which translates to an ERA+ of 71). He’s got a good fastball that can get hitters to swing and miss often as well as an extreme groundball sinker. His most recent start came on May 28 against the Kansas City Royals; in that game, Lynn went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5.
Sunday, June 3 2:10 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) v. Kyle Gibson (RHP)
Just as there has been some separation between Kluber and Carrasco, so too has the gap widened between Bauer and Clevinger this year. So far, across 71.2 innings, Mike Clevinger has allowed 25 earned runs while walking 23 and striking out 61 (which translates to an ERA+ of 145). His most recent start came on May 29 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Clevinger went 6.2 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7. The gap hasn’t widened that much, and Clevinger is still an incredible pitcher on the Tribe’s staff.
Kyle Gibson has bounced back after a couple of poor years and is having a great year for the Twins in 2018. So far, across 63.0 innings, Gibson has allowed 25 earned runs while walking 28 and striking out 66 (which translates to an ERA+ of 118). He’s got good swing and miss stuff in his slider, curve and changeup, and his sinker is thrown harder than most. His most recent start came on May 29 against the Royals; in that game, Gibson went 7.0 innings and didn’t give up a run on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 8.
Players to watch
- Eddie Rosario - The young outfield phenom has improved in virtually all aspects of his game and is leading the offense for a young Minnesota Twins team this season. In his 212 plate appearances thus far, Rosario is slashing .305/.332/.522 (which translates to a wRC+ of 128). He currently leads his team in home runs (9), RBIs (32), and stolen bases (5), so expect him to cause problems for the Tribe all weekend.
- Max Kepler - Part-time Bond villain Max Kepler has been playing baseball well for the Twins this year. He’s walking more, he’s striking out less, and he’s hitting the ball harder than he has before. His slash line over 207 plate appearances this season is .247/.333/.473 (which translates to a wRC+ of 115). His BABIP is right in line with his career average, so it’s not unreasonable to expect this level of production to hold steady for Kepler going forward.
- Matt Magill - Magill has been off and on since he entered the league in 2013. This is his first year with the Twins and he’s done marvelous thus far. In his 17.2 innings of work, he’s allowed just 3 earned runs while walking 2 and striking out 14. He hardly allows any base runners (0.962 WHIP) and can keep the ball in the yard and in the strike zone. Luckily, he throws with his right hand so he won’t be completely dominant over the Tribe.
- Ryan Pressly - You go look at Ryan Pressly’s photo on baseball-reference and tell me he isn’t trying his best to do a Cody Allen cosplay. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Anyway, he’s trying to replicate Allen not only in looks but in pitching performance as well. He’s already appeared in 29 games and has pitched 28.1 innings of great baseball for Minnesota. In that time, he’s allowed 7 earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 39. Expect Paul Molitor to deploy Pressly should things get dicey before he hands the ball off to his closer Fernando Rodney.
The Bieber Era Begins
We’ve been waiting for the debut of Shane Beiber, and that day is finally here. He will most likely be sent back to Columbus after his start, but hopefully he shows us enough to keep fans excited for his inevitable claim to the Tribe rotation.
Separation in the AL Central
The Tribe currently has a 5.5 lead over the Twins in the Central. Because I don’t believe that Detroit will hold down the second spot forever, this is the series to watch right now. A good showing by Cleveland good put some much needed separation between them and the Twins. A bad series, however, and the more anxious fans like me will be scoreboard watching in June. Don’t scoreboard watch in June.
Minnesota Twins roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Twins?
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