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Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics series preview

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You have my permission to boo Jonathan Lucroy from the comfort of your home.

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians found themselves on the wrong side of a series loss after the St. Louis Cardinals defeated them soundly in the first two games out of three. The Tribe was able to avoid the sweep with a victory in the last game, and now they’ve headed out west to face the Oakland Athletics in their penultimate road series before the All-Star Break.

Looking ahead

After this weekend series with the A’s, the Tribe heads back to Kauffman Stadium to take on the Kansas City Royals for three games. They’ll then head back home to Progressive Field and face the A’s once again for another three games. The A’s, on the other hand, will host the San Diego Padres for two games before flying to Cleveland next weekend.

Pitching matchups

Friday, June 29 10:05 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) v. Paul Blackburn (RHP)

Trevor Bauer continues to make the case that that he is the second best starting pitcher on the Cleveland Indians. That’s definitely true right now with Carlos Carrasco injured, and even when Cookie was healthy, Bauer has pitched better than him this season. In 107.0 innings, Bauer has allowed just 29 earned runs while walking 35 and striking out 140 (which translates to an ERA+ of 181). His most recent start came on June 23 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Bauer went 6.1 innings and allowed just 1 run on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 11.

Paul Blackburn’s debut season last year was cut short when he was hit by a line drive on the wrist on August 22 in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. He then had a forearm injury near the end of spring training this year that prevented him from coming up to begin the season. As other injuries mounted for Oakland, Blackburn’s rehab assignment was cut short and he made it back to the big league club on June 7 and has been with them ever since. In his limited time this season, he has not been good. In 17.1 innings of work, Blackburn has allowed 17 runs while walking 4 and striking out 11 (which translates to an ERA+ of 46). He’s got a sinker (90 mph) and a slider (86 mph) that he uses to induce ground balls and a change (85 mph) and a curve (78 mph) that he uses to induce fly balls. His most recent start was a dud; on June 24 against the Chicago White Sox, Blackburn went 5.0 innings and allowed 6 runs on 8 hits while walking zero and striking out 4.

Saturday, June 30 4:05 p.m. ET: Adam Plutko (RHP) v. Edwin Jackson (RHP)

Adam Plutko had a couple of rough games in late May and mid-June, but now that he’s settled into the Cleveland rotation for the time being, he seems to have found his groove as of late. Across 31.0 innings in 2018, Plutko has allowed 16 runs while walking 8 and striking out 22 (which translates to an ERA+ of 96). His most recent start, however, was a good one; on June 24 against the Tigers, Plutko went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits while walking zero and striking out 4.

Edwin Jackson has made one start for the Athletics this season, but it was a historical one. The 34-year-old veteran, now with his 13th major league organization, signed a minor league deal with Oakland on June 6 and was then called up to make his first start of 2018 on June 25 against the Tigers. In that game, Jackson went 6.0 innings and allowed just 1 run on 6 hits while walking zero and striking out 7. Don’t let his age fool you, however, he can still hit mid-90s on the radar gun with his fourseam and his sinker.

Sunday, July 1 4:05 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) v. Frankie Montas (RHP)

When Mike Clevinger isn’t leading the charge against stupid MLB shoe rules, he’s been pitching like an ace for the Indians. So far in 2018, Clevinger has pitched in 104.0 innings and has allowed 35 earned runs while walking 34 and striking out 94 (which translates to an ERA+ of 146). His most recent start came against the Cardinals on June 25; in that game, Clevinger went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4.

Frankie Montas came up for the A’s on May 27 and he’s been a part of the rotation ever since. After being acquired in a trade with the Dodgers in 2016, Montas is one of Oakland’s exciting, young pitchers that will be with the team for years to come. This season, across 36.2 innings, Montas has allowed 15 earned runs while walking 13 and striking out 22 (which translates to an ERA+ of 108). He’s got a devastating fourseam (96 mph) and sinker (96 mph) that he pairs with a sweeping slider (85 mph). His most recent start came on June 26 against the Tigers; in that game, Montas went just 3.0 innings and he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 1.

Players to watch

  • Jed Lowrie - The second baseman for the A’s is in the midst of one of his best seasons ever, and at 34-years-old, that’s no small feat. Across 351 plate appearances so far this season, Lowrie is slashing .294/.350/.497 (which translates to a wRC+ of 134). He’s walking less and striking out more, but he’s hitting for a higher average and for more power than he has at any other point in his career.
  • Matt Olson - After slugging the snot out of the ball in 2017, the Oakland first baseman has slowed down a little, but he’s still been productive at the plate. Across his 335 plate appearances so far in 2018, Olson has a slash line of .239/.322/.451 (which translates to a wRC+ of 115). He’s also striking out in 26% of the time, so don’t be surprised if Cleveland’s strikeout heavy rotation can minizmie Olson’s impact this weekend.
  • Blake Treinen - You want an elite closer? Blake Treinen is your guy. He came over to the A’s midway through last season, and he’s been dominant ever since. This season, he’s been even better. Across 39.2 innings, Treinen has allowed just 4 earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 48 (which translates to a SSS-assisted ERA+ of 439). Jeff Sullivan over at FanGraphs described his sinker as “The one in the upper 90s, the one that resembled a right-handed version of the Zach Britton deathball.”
  • Lou Trivino - Drafted by the A’s in the 11th round in 2013, Trivino has finally made it to the majors and has been fantastic since his debut on April 17 of this season. Across 34.0 innings, Trivino has allowed just 6 runs while walking 13 and striking out 39 (which translates to a SSS-assisted ERA+ of 252). He can also throw in the upper-90s with both his fourseam (98 mph) and sinker (98 mph), and he can pair them with his signature cutter (93 mph) that he uses to get strikeouts or ground outs.

Oakland Athletics roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Athletics?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    3
    (25 votes)
  • 50%
    2
    (69 votes)
  • 21%
    1
    (29 votes)
  • 10%
    0
    (14 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now