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Cleveland Indians at Cincinnati Reds series preview

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The winner of the Ohio Cup will be decided by the end of the series.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians are on quite the roll, eh? After winning another series, this time against the Chicago White Sox, the Tribe heads back to Ohio to face off against their intrastate rival, the Cincinnati Reds.

Looking ahead

After taking on the Orioles Reds, the Indians will make their way to Camden Yards Progressive Field (you know, their home field) to take on the Baltimore Orioles for three games. The quality of opponent goes way up after that series as Cleveland heads to Fenway Park for a four-game set against the Boston Red Sox. The Reds, on the other hand, will head west to AT&T Park to take on the San Francisco Giants before heading back east to Miller Park to take on the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pitching match-ups

Monday, August 13 7:10 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) v. Homer Bailey (RHP)

Mike Clevinger has strung together a handful of great starts since a couple of duds in early July. His overall season numbers are great: across 146.2 innings, Clevinger has allowed 55 earned runs while walking 46 and striking out 144 (which translates to an ERA+ of 132). His most recent start came on August 8 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Clevinger went 7.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 5.

Homer Bailey has been about as good as he’s been since 2015, and that’s not a good thing. Across 80.0 innings this season, Bailey has allowed 55 earned runs while walking 27 and striking out 54 (which translates to an ERA+ of 67). Granted, a lot of his struggles could be residual from an elbow surgery he had in the offseason to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow (the same elbow that’s already had two Tommy John surgeries). His most recent start came on August 6 against the New York Mets; in that game, Bailey went 3.1 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 11 hits while walking no one and striking out 2.

Tuesday, August 14 7:10 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) v. Sal Romano (RHP)

Corey Kluber is no stranger to injuries this year, having dealt with a knee injury of his own last month. But everything looks to be in working order for the Cleveland ace at this point, and now it’s just a matter of tinkering and fine tuning in preparation for the playoffs. Injury aside, Kluber’s numbers are still magnificent this season. Across 161.0 innings, Kluber has allowed 49 earned runs while walking 20 and striking out 153 (which translates to an ERA+ of 163). His last start came on August 9 against the Twins; in that game, Kluber went 7.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 7 hits while walking no one and striking out 7.

Sal Romano is going to be in the Reds’ rotation for the foreseeable future, and the Reds are hoping that he continues to grow and develop because as of now, he’s had a rough go of it in his first 200+ major league innings. This season, for example, across 122.0 innings, Romano has allowed 67 earned runs while walking 45 and striking out 87 (which translates to an ERA+ of 83). His most recent start came on August 7 against the New York Mets; in that game, Romano went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 2 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5.

Wednesday, August 15 7:10 p.m. ET: Shane Bieber (RHP) v. Robert Stephenson (RHP)

Shane Bieber sure is exciting. Pre-season lists had him usually within at least the top 10 prospects for the Tribe, if not higher. Now, he’s cemented himself as the #5 starter on an elite staff. Across 63.2 innings this season, Bieber has allowed 30 earned runs while walking 13 and striking out 66 (which translates to an ERA+ of 105). His most recent start came on August 10 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Bieber went 6.2 innings and allowed no earned runs on 3 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8.

Robert Stephenson was a first round pick back in 2011 and hasn’t yet found his groove in the majors. This season, he’s made just one start. On August 8 against the Mets, Stephenson went 4.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 3 hits while walking 3 and striking out 4.

Players to watch

  • Joey Votto - Can you have a Reds game where you don’t watch Joey Votto? He continues to have one of the best eyes in baseball, which in turn leads him to be one of the best hitters in baseball. Across 496 plate appearances this season, Votto is slashing .290/.427/.426 (which translates to a wRC+ of 135). He’s walked 89 times this season compared to 78 strikeouts, so good luck getting him out.
  • Scooter Gennett - Owner of one of the best baseball names in baseball, Scooter Gennett is having his best year by a lot of measures (not all measures, mind you; he slugged a lot more last season). Across 473 plate appearances, Gennett owns a slash line of .307/.357/.481 (which translates to a wRC+ of 124).
  • Jared Hughes - Hughes has been absolutely dynamite for the Reds out of the bullpen this season. He’s been an above average pitcher for years, but he took off this season and is otherworldly. Across 59.1 innings, Hughes has allowed just 9 earned runs while walking 17 and striking out 44 (which translates to a silly ERA+ of 303).
  • David Hernandez - Another good arm out of the Cincinnati bullpen, Hernandez is in the midst of one of his best seasons to date, his first with the Reds. Across 44.2 innings, Hernandez has allowed 10 earned runs while walking 13 and striking out 42 (which translates to another silly ERA+ of 206).

Storylines

Who will win the Ohio Cup?!

The Reds currently have a 2-1 advantage over the Indians in the season series this year. The Indians need to win this series in order to retain the cup and they need to sweep it in order to win it outright. Losing the series will mean the cup goes to Cincinnati for the first time since 2014.

Will the Yandy Diaz Experience continue to flourish?

Fun fact, but in the five games that Yandy has played in the majors this season, he’s had at least one hit in every single one. I’m just saying, maybe his .526/.526/.632 slash line isn’t all smoke and mirrors, people. But even if he regresses a tad, Yandy can still prove to be a valuable player for the Indians in Edwin’s absence and beyond.

Cincinnati Reds roster

FanGraphs

Poll

Who will win the Ohio Cup in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Indians
    (90 votes)
  • 6%
    Reds
    (12 votes)
  • 42%
    Tie (so it will stay with Cleveland)
    (75 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now