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Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox series preview

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The White Sox are 12 back of Cleveland. That number should grow after these four games.

Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

A good series victory against an AL Central rival seems to be just what the Tribe needed. Now, the Cleveland Indians head to Chicago to take on another AL Central team in the White Sox.

Looking ahead

The Indians will have this four-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field to start this week. After that, they’ll head back home for a fairly lengthy home stand that will begin with three games against the Minnesota Twins followed by another three games against the White Sox. Chicago, on the other hand, will stay home and host the Detroit Tigers for a weekend series before flying out to Cleveland next week.

Pitching matchups

Monday, June 11 8:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) v. Lucas Giolito (RHP)

As our own Merritt Rohlfing pointed out the other day, Carlos Carrasco’s season makes no sense. He’s been sporadic all season to the point that you really have no idea what you’re going to get from him. Are you going to get 3.2 innings and 6 earned runs or 7.0 innings and 1 earned run? Both seem equally plausible at this point. If you put it all together, his season hasn’t been “bad”, but it’s been disappointing if that makes sense; across 83.0 innings, Carrasco has allowed 39 earned runs while walking 20 and striking out 83 (which translates to an ERA+ of 105). His most recent start was a good one on June 6 against the Milwaukee Brewers; in that game, Cookie went 7.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 8 hits while walking 1 and striking out 10. More of that, please.

The last time we saw Lucas Giolito, he was awful, and not much has changed. The Tribe touched him for 5 runs on 9 hits back on May 29, but he did seem to turn things around a bit on June 5 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Giolito went 6.0 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 1. Overall this year, Giolito has pitched in 61.0 innings nad has allowed 48 earned runs while walking 39 and striking out 31 (which translates to an ERA+ of 58). Nothing is working for Giolito this season: his BB/9 has more than doubled from last season, he’s striking out fewer batters per nine, his WHIP is up above 1.6, and he’s not striking anyone out. But he’s giving up fewer home runs, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Tuesday, June 12 8:10 p.m. ET: Adam Plutko (RHP) v. James Shields (RHP)

The Cleveland brass decided that Adam Plutko should get the next spot start over Shane Bieber, and this is the correct move. Bieber, while exciting, still needs his regular reps in the minors in order to develop a bit more, whereas Plutko is all but ready to come up and stick in the rotation for Cleveland. Plutko has 18.1 innings at the major league level this season, and he’s given up 8 earned runs during that time while walking 5 and striking out 12 (which translates to an ERA+ of 114). He’ll get another shot at the White Sox; they were the last team he faced in the majors back on May 28 before getting sent back to Columbus. In that game, Plutko went 5.0 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 2.

The days of James Shields being a good major league pitcher are long gone. You have to go all the way back to 2014 to find a year where Shields ended the year with an ERA+ above 100. Ever since moving to San Diego and then Chicago, he’s ranged from barely average to absolutely awful. In 2018, Big Game James is somewhere between those two points. Across 82.1 innings, Shields has allowed 45 earned runs while walking 33 and striking out 57 (which translates to an ERA+ of 83). His most recent start came on June 7 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Shields went 6.0 innings and allowed 7 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 2 and striking out 6. Compared to 2017, Shields is allowing fewer base runners, fewer hits, home runs, and walks, but he’s also striking out fewer batters. Basically, nothing sticks out as being the huge red flag to account for Shields’ ineffectiveness (his velocity on all his pitches is about the same as it was last year); it may just be that Father Time is catching up with the 36-year-old.

Wednesday, June 13 8:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) v. Dylan Covey (RHP)

Trevor Bauer continues to excel in 2018, and it could very easily be argued that he is the Tribe’s second best starter at this point in time. If it weren’t for Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander, he could be getting some early Cy Young buzz as well. This season, across 86.0 innings, Bauer has allowed 25 earned runs while walking 29 and striking out 109 (which translates to a nice ERA+ of 169). His last start came on June 8 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Bauer went 8.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 12 (his third consecutive start with 10+ strikeouts).

Dylan Covey seems to be a permanent member of the White Sox rotation after going toe to toe with Chris Sale on June 8. With Carlos Rodon off the DL and back in the rotation, Covey has bumped Hector Santiago to the bullpen for the time being, and for good reason. Covey has looked excellent in his limited time at the major league level so far this season; in 28.1 innings, Covey has allowed just 7 earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 28 (which translates to an ERA+ of 186). As mentioned before, he looked great a few days ago against the Red Sox; on June 8, Covey went 6.0 innings and allowed zero earned runs on 3 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7. He’s faced the Indians once already this season back on May 28 when he lasted just 4.1 innings and gave up 5 runs (2 earned).

Thursday, June 14 2:10 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) v. Carlos Rodon (LHP)

The idea that Mike Clevinger is somehow fading seems to be unfounded. He’s not pitching with the 2.56 ERA he had at the end of April, but we’re midway through June and he’s still done extremely well for Cleveland this season. Across 84.1 innings so far, Clevinger has allowed 31 earned runs while walking 29 and striking out 69 (which translates to an ERA+ of 134). His most recent start came on June 9 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Sunshine went 6.2 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5.

Carlos Rodon had surgery on his left shoulder back in September of 2017 to repair the bursitis in his throwing arm. The timetable for return was six to eight months, and he made his first start of the season on June 9 against the Boston Red Sox, and he looked great considering he hadn’t pitched in a major league game since 2017. In that game, Rodon went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7.

Players to watch

  • Matt Davidson - Matt Davidson has learned how to walk, which is a good thing for the White Sox. He only walked 19 times over 443 plate appearances last season; this year, he’s already walked 31 times in 196 plate appearances. Pair that with his team-leading 11 home runs, and you have an unexpected offensive threat.
  • Joakim Soria - The closer for the Sox is doing a fairly good job at keeping runners off the bases late in games. He’s given up 24 hits in 24.2 innings, but he’s only walked 5 batters. He’s also got a 10.6 K/9 and a 0.7 HR/9, so he’s keeping the ball in the yard and striking guys out when he needs to. His FIP (4.40) indicates that things may start crashing down around him eventually, but he’s doing alright for now.

Storylines

Which Carlos Carrasco will we see this time?

I’m hoping that Cookie is in the middle of reverting back to his dominant self, but I’m honestly not sure what we’ll get from Carrasco this series. Because the White Sox are not a great team this season, I’m hoping that it will give Carlos a chance to get back on track. Only time will tell.

Will Roberto Perez be on the DL?

After getting hit in the hand in the series finale against the Tigers, it’s unclear as to whether or not Roberto Perez will need time on the DL. We should know more as this series progresses, which means that it’s possible that Trevor Bauer will be losing his personal catcher for the time being.

Is Francisco Lindor back?

Lindor entered a lengthy (for him) slump when he went 0-for-20 before busting out with a big game against Detroit (3 hits, 2 steals). Thankfully, the Indians still had the red hot Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley to hold down the top of the lineup, but it’s much more fun when all three are all clicking at the same time.

Chicago White Sox roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    4
    (35 votes)
  • 59%
    3
    (84 votes)
  • 9%
    2
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    1
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (7 votes)
142 votes total Vote Now