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Cleveland Indians vs. Milwaukee Brewers series preview

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Jesus Aguilar returns with a vengeance.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After a demoralizing series against the Minnesota Twins and a day off yesterday, the Cleveland Indians are back at Progressive Field tonight to take on the Milwaukee Brewers for the second time this season. The Indians split a two-game set with the Brewers earlier this year.

Looking ahead

After these two games, the Indians get a rare second day off this week. They’ll then travel to Detroit to face the Tigers for three games before heading back to Guaranteed Rate Field to face the Chicago White Sox for four games. The Brewers, on the other hand, will take on travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies for three games before heading back home to welcome the Chicago Cubs for three games.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday, June 5 7:10 p.m. ET: Junior Guerra (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)

Junior Guerra entered the league fairly late. He debuted at age 30 in 2015 with the Chicago White Sox. He only pitched for 4.0 innings and then found himself with the Brewers in 2016. His first full season in the majors did not disappoint (121.2 IP, 43 BB, 100 K, 152 ERA+). Last season saw Guerra bouncing between the rotation, the bullpen, and the minors, so it’s no surprise that his numbers weren’t all that great. This year, however, Guerra is back in the rotation for good and has done extremely well for the Brewers. In 54.1 innings so far this season, Guerra has allowed 16 earned runs while walking 20 and striking out 51 (which translates to an ERA+ of 155). He’s got a handful of pitches, namely his 4-seam (93 mph) and his sinker (94 mph), that will get hitters to swing and miss often, while his slider (84 mph) can strike hitters out and get them to fly out. His most recent start came on May 30 against the St. Louis Cardinals; in that game, Guerra went 6.0 innings and allowed no earned runs on 4 hits while walking no one and striking out 7.

Corey Kluber finally has more strikeouts than innings pitched so far this season, and that makes me happy. He’s in the midst of his greatest season yet, and if I am giddy thinking about what will happen if he can keep this up throughout the entire year. So far this season, Kluber has pitched in 84.2 innings and has allowed 19 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 88 (which translates to an ERA+ of 222). His most recent start came on May 30 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Kluber went 6.0 innings and allowed no earned runs on 3 hits while walking no one and striking out 10 (he’s struck out 10+ four times already this season).

Wednesday, June 6 1:10 p.m. ET: Chase Anderson (RHP) v. Carlos Carrasco (RHP)

After an absolutely dominant 2017, Chase Anderson has been severely underperforming in 2018. Or, he had an abnormally great year last year and is back to being a mediocre pitcher this year. Whichever way you choose to view the numbers, the fact stands that Anderson has not pitched very well for the Brewers so far in 2018. In 60.2 innings pitched, Anderson has allowed 30 earned runs while walking 23 and striking out 39 (which translates to an ERA+ of 92). The difference between last year and every other year of Anderson’s career was his ability to limit base runners and home runs, two things that he is not doing well this year at all. His WHIP is still decent at 1.220, but he’s giving up 1.9 HR/9 on top of 7.6 H/9 and 3.4 BB/9; in short, he’s putting too many men on base and then giving up home runs (GEE I WONDER WHO THAT SOUNDS LIKE). His most recent start came on June 1 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Anderson went 5.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 1.

I don’t know if it’s “too early” to be worried about Carlos Carrasco, but I’m worried about Carlos Carrasco. He had a rough first start this season, but then he looked like he settled into a groove and was pitching like an ace for almost the entire month of April. He had a clunker to finish off the month...and then another to start the month of May. He followed that game up with his second complete game of the season. Over his next four starts, he gave up 3+ earned runs every time, including his previous two starts where he gave up 11 earned runs over 9.1 innings. Because the bad games have become more frequent, they’ve essentially negated all of the gems he’s pitched; this season, across 76.0 innings, Carrasco has thrown 76.0 innings and has allowed 38 earned runs while walking 19 and striking out 73 (which translates to an ERA+ of 100). His most recent start came on June 1 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Cookie went 3.2 innings and allowed 6 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 3 and striking out 2.

Players to watch

  • Jesus Aguilar - Yes, Jesus Aguilar is one of the best offensive forces for the Brewers this season. He leads all hitters with 100+ plate appearances on the team in average (.309), slugging (.564), OPS+ (150) and wRC+ (151). Yeah I don’t know what happened either.
  • Christian Yelich - Yelich has been an above-average offensive contributor since the day he made it to the majors in 2013 and he hasn’t stopped since. His numbers seem to be right in line with or better than his career numbers. The main difference is his power has seen an increase this season back to his 2016 levels when he hit 21 home runs, which is about what he’s on pace for this season. He’s currently slashing .298/.373/.473 over 212 plate appearances this season (which translates to a wRC+ of 129).
  • Jeremy Jeffress - If you can give up just 2 earned runs across 30 innings, you’re probably doing something right. Which is exactly what Jeffress has done so far this season. He’s not striking a ton of guys out (only 26), but he’s hardly allowing any base runners due to his low H/9 (3.9) level. He’s walking a few too many hitters for a relief pitcher, but otherwise he’s been absolutely stellar for the Brewers.
  • Josh Hader - A left-handed pitcher who can throw in the mid-90s is a recipe for disaster for opposing hitters, and that’s exactly what Josh Hader is. The closer for the Brewers has pitched extremely well so far in 2018, allowing just 4 earned runs over 34.1 innings. Oh, and he already has 69 strikeouts. He’s also walking a few too many batters, but he otherwise doesn’t let anyone on base. If the Brewers are leading in the 9th inning (or earlier; Hader has pitched 34.1 innings in only 20 games), expect him to come out to slam the door.

Storylines

Can Carlos Carrasco find his form again?

As I mentioned above, Carrasco has shown flashes of brilliance this season that have been, at times, obscured by some absolutely dreadful outings. May was worse for him than April was, and his first start in June was abysmal. Due to the dumpster fire that currently resides in the Cleveland bullpen, Tito has had to stretch his starters more than he normally would want to. Carrasco is expected to eat a bulk of those innings, so hopefully he starts to turn things around.

Edwin heating up

With his recent AL Player of the Week honors in hand, it seems that Edwin Encarnacion is turning his own corner and beginning to mash like we know he can. His last five games, for example, saw him hit .421/.476/1.105 with 4 home runs and a double. More of this, please.

Roberto Perez is not heating up

Have you looked at Roberto Perez’s slash line on the year? You haven’t? Well, it’s not pretty: .139/.232/.222 (OPS+ of 22). Roberto Perez has consistently been a defense-first catcher who can occasionally draw a walk while at the plate. This year, he’s not doing either of those things. Thankfully Yan Gomes has been somewhat decent offensively this year or we would continue to hear about how our catchers are black holes at the plate.

Milwaukee Brewers roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Brewers?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    2
    (44 votes)
  • 41%
    1
    (41 votes)
  • 13%
    0
    (13 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now