After a good series against a struggling AL Central team, the Cleveland Indians head to Target Field to do the same thing against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have fully embraced their rebuild and have been trading away players left and right.
Following this series, the Indians head back to Cleveland to welcome the Los Angeles Angels for three games before the Twins come to town for four games. The Twins, on the other hand, will welcome the Royals for three games before facing off against Cleveland again.
Monday, July 30 8:10 p.m. ET: Shane Bieber (RHP) v. Ervin Santana (RHP)
Shane Bieber got off to a hot start in his rookie season but really crashed back to earth in the month of July, giving up 18 earned runs in 20.2 innings. And yet, I still prefer watching Bieber pitch every fifth day in place of Josh Tomlin. So far this season, Bieber has thrown 45.0 innings and has allowed 24 earned runs while walking 8 and striking out 44 (which translates to an ERA+ of 93). His most recent start came on July 24 against the Pittsburgh Pirates; in that game, Bieber went just 1.2 innings and allowed 7 earned runs on 7 hits while walking no one and striking out 2.
Ervin Santana has missed most of the 2018 season thus far due to surgery he had earlier this year to remove calcium deposits from the middle finger on his throwing hand. This is after three consecutive seasons of posting an ERA+ of over 100, including his 2017 season where he was named an All-Star for the first time since 2008. He’s only made one start this season on July 25 against the Toronto Blue Jays. In that game, Santana went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 5. Most of his pitches induce fly balls, including his slider (81 mph), his fourseam (90 mph), and his change-up (83 mph).
Tuesday, July 31 8:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) v. Kyle Gibson (RHP)
Trevor Bauer is in the running for a Cy Young award. If he continues to be this dominant for the rest of the season, he may very well win it. In 147.1 innings this season, Bauer has allowed just 38 runs while walking 49 and striking out 192 (which translates to an ERA+ of 192). His most recent start came on July 25 against the Pirates; in that game, Bauer went 7.0 innings and allowed zero runs on 2 hits while walking 2 and striking out 10.
Kyle Gibson has bounced back after two down years and is in the middle of the best season of his career. In 129.0 innings this season, Gibson has allowed 49 earned runs while walking 50 and striking out 126 (which translates to an ERA+ of 127). His main pitch is his sinker (93 mph), but his slider (86 mph) is the killer. It sweeps across the zone and either gets hitters to swing and miss or fly out. His 12-6 curve (81 mph) can also fool hitters. His most recent start came on July 26 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Gibson went 8.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7.
Wednesday, August 1 1:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) v. Lance Lynn (RHP)
Carlos Carrasco has been on a roll this month and has rebounded well after his injury in mid-June. So far in 2018, Carrasco has pitched 115.2 innings and has allowed 50 earned runs while walking 26 and striking out 128 (which translates to an ERA+ of 115). His most recent start came on July 27 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Cookie went 6.1 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 7 hits while walking 2 and stirking out 8.
Lance Lynn has struggled this season, his first in Minnesota. Across 102.1 innings, Lynn has allowed 58 earned runs while walking 62 and striking out 100 (which translates to an ERA+ of 85). He’s got a good fourseam (94 mph) that gets a lot of hitters to swing and miss, while his sinker (92 mph) also generates swings and misses but also induces a ton of ground balls. Pretty much all of his pitches except his slider (85 mph) have some type of sinking action. His most recent start came on July 27 against the Red Sox; in that game, Lynn went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3.
Players to watch
- Eddie Rosario - Rosario is one of the players on the Twins who will factor into their window of contention in the next few seasons, so he doesn’t need to worry about being traded by the deadline. Instead, he’s watching all of his teammates around him disappear like in The Snap. As his team morphs and changes, Rosario continues to dominate. In 447 plate appearances, Rosario has a slash line of .305/.348/.513 (which translates to a wRC+ of 130). He’s leading the Twins in many offensive categories, including home runs (19), RBIs (64), and OPS (.861).
- Mitch Garver - Garver is in his first full season behind the plate for the Twins, and he’s been great so far. Across 222 plate appearances, Garver has slashed .264/.344/.406 (which translates to a wRC+ of 104). The alternative for the Twins is Bobby Wilson, and he’s been Roberto Perez levels of terrible this season.
- Fernando Rodney - It’s very possible that Fernando Rodney will not be with the Twins by the end of this series. But as of right now, he’s the closer for the Twins. Across 38.2 innings this season, Rodney has allowed 15 earned runs while walking 15 and striking out 43 (which translates to an ERA+ of 125). His sinker (94 mph) still has some life to it and can get hitters to swing and miss, while his change up (83 mph) can also fool hitters and get strikeouts.
- Zach Duke - Duke has found his far to Minnesota this season, and he’s again pitching incredibly well out of the bullpen. Across 37.1 innings, Duke has allowed 15 earned runs while walking 15 and striking out 39 (which translates to an ERA+ of 121). His sinker (88 mph) is a ground ball pitch through and through. His curve (73 mph), on the other hand, can make hitters look foolish while they swing and miss.
Seriously, who are the Indians going to trade for?
Time’s a-tickin’. The trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m., so the Indians have a little over 24 hours to make a move. The focus is on the outfield at this point, so expect trade rumors to start to ramp up over the rest of today and tomorrow morning.
The Twins are in rebuild mode
The Twins have already started moving players. Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly have already been shipped off to the Diamondbacks and the Astros, respectively, and it’s very likely that at least one other player will be moved by the deadline. Since the deadline happens in the middle of this series, the Twins may lose and/or gain some players before the Indians leave town.
Shane Bieber getting back on track
As mentioned above, Bieber has not had a good month. The control seems to still be there (he’s only walked 4 batters in the month of July), but hitters seemed to have figured out that Bieber isn’t going to throw the ball out of the zone. Instead, they’re waiting on pitches and then mashing them. Bieber has said that he’s been trying to learn from watching Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, which are two pitchers who have good control but can also waste a pitch every now and then to keep hitters off balance.
Minnesota Twins roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Twins?
This poll is closed