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Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees series preview

The first half comes to a close with two AL juggernauts.

MLB: Game Two-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What a weird series. A 3-game set that probably should have broken in favor of the Tribe goes down as a series loss as the Reds leave town with 2 out of 3 wins. But in the last game of the series, the Cleveland offense went into overdrive and scored 19 runs, so I almost forgot about the other two games in the series. Because of that, I’m almost going into this final series against the New York Yankees on a high note. Like I said, weird series.

Looking ahead

Both teams will get a well deserved break after this 4-game series thanks to the All-Star break. The Yankees will send four representatives (Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Luis Severino and *sigh* Aroldis Chapman) while the Tribe will send five.

Pitching matchups

Thursday, July 12 7:10 p.m. ET: Luis Severino (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)

You may be looking at a potential ALDS Game 1 preview on Thursday night with Severino and Kluber on the mound. Luis Severino has been absolutely dominant all season long. Across 123.1 innings, Severino has allowed just 29 earned runs while walking 31 and striking out 143 (which translates to a league leading ERA+ of 201 after adjustments). He’s only got three pitches, but all of them are deadly. His fourseam (98 mph) generates a lot of swinging strikes, while his slider (88 mph) and change up (88 mph) pair with the fastball to get ground balls and whiffs. His most recent start came on July 7 against the Toronto Blue Jays; in that game, Severino went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5.

Corey Kluber is looking to close out one of the best first halves of his career on Thursday night. The strong righty is once again one of the best pitchers in baseball, although he has slipped a couple of spots in the rankings due to a couple of bad games recently. So far in 2018, Kluber has pitched in 126.1 innings and has allowed just 35 earned runs while walking 15 and striking out 123 (which translates to an ERA+ of 177). His most recent start came on July 7 against the Oakland Athletics; in that game, Kluber went 7.0 innings and allowed no earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 3.

Friday, July 13 7:10 p.m. ET: Domingo German (RHP) v. Shane Bieber (RHP)

Domingo German started the year out of the bullpen with the Yankees. On May 6, he was called to make a start against...the Cleveland Indians. He shutout the Tribe for six innings that day and has been a member of the rotation ever since. Between the bullpen and his starts, German has had a bit of a tough year so far. In 74.2 innings, German has allowed 42 earned runs while walking 26 and striking out 86 (which translates to an ERA+ of 84). His big 12-6 curveball (82 mph) gets a lot of fly balls, whereas his fastball (95 mph) can induce fly outs and swinging strikes. His sinker (95 mph) is also great for getting hitters to swing and miss. Hist most recent start came on July 8 against the Blue Jays; in that game, German went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5.

Shane Bieber has earned his place in the starting rotation, and I’ve much preferred watching him take the ball every fifth day as opposed to Josh Tomlin. In his 36.1 innings this season so far, Bieber has allowed 14 earned runs while walking 6 and striking out 36 (which translates to an ERA+ of 128). His most recent start came on July 8 against the A’s; in that game, Bieber went 6.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7.

Saturday, July 14 7:15 p.m. ET: CC Sabathia (LHP) v. Mike Clevinger (RHP)

CC Sabathia continues to defy father time and be a great major league pitcher. Seriously, the man is 37-years-old and isn’t showing too many signs of slowing down. Across 94.1 innings this season, Sabathia has allowed 35 earned runs while walking 27 and striking out 75 (which translates to an ERA+ of 127). He relies primarily on his cutter (89 mph) these days, but he’ll toss in a slider (80 mph) if he needs to change speeds or a sinker (90 mph) if he needs a ground ball. His most recent start came on July 9 against the Baltimore Orioles; in that game, Sabathia went 5.0 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 3 and striking out 4.

Mike Clevinger needs 5.2 innings to match his innings total from 2017, and he may do it before the All-Star break. Clevinger has been fantastic for the Tribe so far this season. In 116.0 innings, he’s allowed 43 earned runs while walking 39 and striking out 110 (which translates to an ERA+ of 132). His most recent start came on July 9 against the Cincinnati Reds; in that game, Clevinger went 6.0 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 3 and striking out a season high 11 hitters.

Sunday, July 15 1:10 p.m. ET: Masahiro Tanaka (RHP) v. Trevor Bauer (RHP)

It seems like Masahiro Tanaka is a pitcher who is always on the cusp of greatness and then gets sidelined with an injury. He’s missed time due to injury in 3 of his last 4 seasons, including earlier this year when he strained both hamstrings. Thankfully, he seems to be fully healthy now and back in the rotation for the Yankees. However, his year has been a bit underwhelming so far; in 77.0 innings, Tanaka has allowed 40 earned runs while walking 21 and striking out 78 (which translates to an ERA+ of 91). He’s got a good number of pitches to work with, but he relies mainly on his splitter (87 mph) and his slider (83 mph) paired with a fastball (92 mph). He can throw out his curve (77 mph) when he needs a fly ball out or his cutter (89 mph) if he needs a swing and miss. His most recent start came on July 10 against the Orioles; in that game, Tanaka went 4.1 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5.

At this point, there is a legitimate discussion waiting to be had about who is the best starting pitcher on the Cleveland Indians right now, and many numbers would point to Trevor Bauer. The 27-year-old has finally put everything together and become the ace that Cleveland fans dreamed of when he arrived from Arizona in 2013. So far in 2018, Bauer has pitched in 129.1 innings and has allowed 33 earned runs while walking 41 and striking out 168 (which translates to an ERA+ of 192). His most recent start came on July 10 against the Reds; in that game, Bauer went 8.0 shutout innings and scattered 3 hits while walking 4 and striking out 12. We don’t need to talk about what happened in the ninth inning of that game. Just know that Trevor Bauer was, again, incredible.

Players to watch

  • Aaron Judge - Judge gets a lot of hate primarily because of the uniform he wears. Put him on another team, and he would be universally hailed as one of the bright young players that will be a face of MLB for years to come. But he’s on the Yankees, so boo on him I guess. He’s in the midst of another spectacular season for the Yankees. Not as good as last season, but still incredible nonetheless. Across 406 plate appearances so far in 2018, Judge has a slash of .281/.399/.558 (which translates to a wRC+ of 160). He’s leading his team in home runs (25), RBIs (60), and slugging (.558), so expect Judge to mash in these four games.
  • Giancarlo Stanton - Remember when Yankees fans were booing Stanton early this season when he wasn’t hitting? That says more about Yankees fans than it does for Stanton. Regardless, Stanton has turned his season around and is back to hitting the snot out of the ball. Granted, he’s not hitting for nearly as much power as he was last year when he had a silly slugging of .631, but he’s still got a good .276/.348/.518 slash over 400 plate appearances this year (which translates to a wRC+ of 134). He leads his team in hits (98), so don’t be surprised if he either knocks the ball out of the yard or just gets a single here and there to keep the line moving.
  • Jonathan Holder - Holder is a fantastic relief pitcher, and if it weren’t for the next person (begrudgingly) on my list, he’d probably be the elite closer for the Yankees. Across 37.0 innings this season, Holder has allowed just 8 earned runs while walking 5 and striking out 32 (which translates to an ERA+ of 220). He’s got a fastball (93 mph) that can get hitters to swing and miss or pop up, and his slider (83 mph) and change (86 mph) can also get a lot of fly balls when needed.
  • Aroldis Chapman - What more do you need to know about Aroldis Chapman? He throws the ball as fast as a bullet coming out of a gun and, unsurprisingly, has the fastest pitch of 2018. I don’t live in Cleveland, so I’m trusting those of you who will be in attendance this weekend to pepper Chapman with a steady stream of boos. Because if there’s one thing Chapman deserves, it’s a 5-year/$86 million dollar contract because he throw ball fast despite being a garbage human being feeling of discomfort when he pitches at Progressive Field.


Strikeout prone hitters v. strikeout heavy pitchers

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are both threats at the plate, make no mistake about it. On the other hand, both have also struck out 125 times each this season. So they aren’t infallible. The Tribe has some of the best strikeout pitchers going this weekend. Something’s gotta give.

The bullpen

The cracks started to show again in the series against the Reds when the Indians were leading 4-0 in the top of the ninth with 2 outs and gave up 7 runs. My silver lining is that most of those runs were attributed to Cody Allen, and I have to believe that he’s healthy and will be alright. But as others have pointed out, Allen hasn’t been the elite pitcher that we’ve known in recent years. He’s been great, solid even, but there have been issues in 2018. If Allen can’t be relied on and Miller is still injured, the bullpen is in a world of hurt.

Which pair will hit more home runs this weekend?

You’ve got two of the most exciting players in baseball who have been hitting home runs like nobody’s business this season on the one hand. On the other, you have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. The Judge/Stanton duo has hit 47 home runs this season, while the Lindor/Ramirez pair has hit 52. Expect some dingers this weekend.

New York Yankees roster



How many games will the Indians win against the Yankees?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (14 votes)
  • 16%
    (27 votes)
  • 42%
    (70 votes)
  • 22%
    (37 votes)
  • 10%
    (18 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now