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Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins series preview

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Alright let’s try this again.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

After an underwhelming, frustrating series against the White Sox, the Indians head back to Cleveland to face off against the Minnesota Twins. The Indians played the Twins two weeks ago and dropped 3/4 games at Target Field. Hopefully this series goes better than that one.

Looking ahead

Cleveland gets to be back home for the next week+ to take on the AL Central. After this weekend series against the Twins, the Tribe will welcome the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers for a pair of three-game series’. The Twins, on the other hand, will head back home to take on the Boston Red Sox for three games before the Texas Rangers come into town for a three-game set.

Pitching matchups

Friday, June 15 7:10 p.m. ET: Kyle Gibson (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)

Kyle Gibson continues to pitch well for the Twins this season, and he’s on pace to have his best season to date. Across 75.2 innings this season, Gibson has allowed 29 earned runs while walking 32 and striking out 78 (which translates to an ERA+ of 119). He took on the Indians a couple of weeks ago for the first time this season, and he looked good across his 5.2 innings of work. Granted, the story of that game was the Indians bullpen blowing the game twice, so Gibson didn’t really make headlines. His most recent start came on June 9 against the Los Angeles Angels; in that game, Gibson went 7.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5.

Cleveland ace and human cheat code Corey Kluber opens up this series for the Tribe, and excellence from the 32-year-old isn’t new anymore. It’s impressive as hell, sure, but it’s become routine. He’s been better than ever this season; across 99.2 innings of work, Kluber has allowed just 22 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 103 (which translates to an ERA+ of 223). His most recent start came on June 10 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Kluber went 8.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking no one and striking out 8. The last time Corey Kluber walked a batter was on May 8 when he walked a single batter. The last time he walked more than one batter was on April 27 when he walked 3.

Saturday, June 16 4:10 p.m. ET: Fernando Romero (RHP) v. Carlos Carrasco (RHP)

23-year-old rookie Fernando Romero made his debut for the Twins this year on May 2 and he’s done well in his time so far. Across 41.1 innings, Romero has allowed 18 earned runs while walking 16 and striking out 39 (which translates to an ERA+ of 105). Romero has found success thanks to his mid-90s fastball and sinker, which generate a high number of fly balls and ground balls, respectively. He can pepper in a slider (87 mph) or a change up (90 mph) to get similar results. His most recent start came on June 10 against the Los Angeles Angels; in that game, Romero went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5.

Carlos Carrasco has now had two excellent starts in a row, and he’ll go for the hat trick this Saturday against the Twins. He’s still having a good year despite some of his hiccups; across 90.0 innings, Carrasco has allowed 39 earned runs while walking 21 and striking out 94 (which translates to an ERA+ of 114). His most recent start came on June 11 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Cookie went 7.0 innings and didn’t allow a run on just 2 hits while walking 1 and striking out 11.

Sunday, June 17 1:10 p.m. ET: Jake Odorizzi (RHP) v. Adam Plutko (RHP)

Jake Odorizzi has struggled a bit this season, which follows a downward trend that he’s been following over the last three seasons. This season, for example, Odorizzi has pitched in 73.0 innings and has allowed 34 earned runs while walking 31 and striking out 72 (which translates to an ERA+ of 98). Cleveland hasn’t been kind to him this year, either. Across two starts, he’s pitched in 8.2 innings and allowed 11 earned runs. Of the 13 hits Cleveland has this year against Odorizzi, 5 of them have been home runs. Odorizzi’s most recent start was a bit better; on June 12 against the Detroit Tigers, Odorizzi went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 4 and striking out 4.

Adam Plutko has made four starts for the Indians this year. Two of those starts were excellent, and the other two were pretty terrible. He’s struggled overall this season, but some normalcy in the rotation may help him settle in going forward. In the 23.0 innings he’s pitched in this season at the major league level, Plutko has allowed 13 earned runs while walking 8 and striking out 17 (which translates to an ERA+ of 88). His most recent start came on June 12 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Plutko went 4.2 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5.

Players to watch

  • Eduardo Escobar - Escobar is in the midst of his best season to date. The 29-year-old third baseman is striking out in 21.8% of his plate appearances and he’s walking in just 6.9% of his PAs, but he’s smacking the absolute crap out of the baseball most of the time. He’s got a slash of .290/.340/.564 across 262 plate appearances this year (which translates to a wRC+ of 140). Of his 70 hits this year, 40 of them have gone for extra bases, including his team leading 26 doubles. Be wary of Escobar this weekend, he will do some damage.
  • Trevor Hildenberger - Hildenberger had a good MLB debut with the Twins last season, and he’s stepped up his game in 2018. His WHIP is slightly down (it was already very good to begin with) and he’s allowing fewer hits per 9 innings than he did last year. He is walking more and allowing more home runs, however, so he has had some issues this year. Overall, across 33.2 innings of work, Hildenberger has allowed just 9 earned runs while walking 7 and striking out 27 (which translates to an ERA+ of 172).
  • Zach Duke - Duke has been a resilient, effective reliever for years. He’s made his way between multiple teams over the years, and he’s now with the Twins in his 36-year-old season. The lefty has thrown in 24.1 innings this season and he’s allowed just 8 earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 26 (which translates to an ERA+ of 140).

Storylines

Will Corey Kluber ever walk a batter again?

My guess is no. The count currently stands at 168 batters faced without walking a batter.

How will Adam Plutko do?

After some up and down this season, it seems that Plutko will be in the rotation for the foreseeable future. With some stability now, we’ll see if it has a positive impact on Plutko’s pitching going forth. Or, if he struggles some more, how long it takes for folks to turn on him.

Will Matt Belisle betray Cleveland after all they’ve been through?

Belisle is now a member of the Minnesota Twins after pitching poorly for the Indians in 10.2 innings this year. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but he hasn’t given up a run since joining the Twins.

Minnesota Twins roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    3
    (27 votes)
  • 53%
    2
    (49 votes)
  • 13%
    1
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (4 votes)
92 votes total Vote Now