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Cleveland Indians vs. Tampa Bay Rays series preview

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Cleveland is back to their series’ winning ways

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Hi there. Welcome to another series preview for the Let’s Go Tribe baseball website. This one features the Cleveland Indians facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays after just taking 2 of 3 from the Minnesota Twins. The calendar will turn to September this weekend, which means we are in the home stretch before October baseball. I’m fairly confident that Cleveland will make the playoffs, but don’t quote me on it.

Looking ahead

After this weekend, the Rays will head north to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for three games before heading back stateside to face off against the Baltimore Orioles for three games. The Indians will welcome in the Kansas City Royals for three games before making their own trek north to visit the Blue Jays in Toronto for four games.

Pitching match-ups

Friday, August 31 7:10 p.m. ET: Tyler Glasnow (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)

Tyler Glasnow started the year in the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Chris Archer trade earlier this year. Since arriving in Tampa, Glasnow has converted to a starter as he has started in all five games since coming to the Rays. Overall in 2018, Glasnow has struggled. In 79.2 innings, Glasnow has allowed 37 earned runs while walking 43 hitters and striking out 104 (which translates to an ERA+ of 94). He’s got a blazing fastball (97 mph) that has little movement but still gets hitters to swing and miss, and he pairs it with a sharp curve (84 mph) that also gets hitters to swing and miss. He rounds out his repertoire with a slider (86 mph) that gets hitters to either swing and miss or fly out. His most recent start came on August 23 against the Kansas City Royals; in that game, Glasnow went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 3 hitters and striking out 8.

Corey Kluber finishes off an okay August after bouncing back from an injury earlier in the season. His numbers this season probably won’t net him a third Cy Young award, but they are nothing to sneeze at. Across 179.2 innings this season, Kluber has allowed 58 earned runs while walking 25 hitters and striking out 172 (which translates to an ERA+ of 152). His most recent start came on August 25 against the Kansas City Royals; in that game, Kluber went 5.1 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 9 hits while walking 2 hitters and striking out 6.

Saturday, September 1 7:10 p.m. ET: Blake Snell (LHP) v. Shane Bieber (RHP)

One pitcher who will get Cy Young consideration this season is Blake Snell. He’s been good for his two seasons prior to 2018, but he’s exploded this season to be a top level starter. His inning total will hurt his overall chances for the Cy Young, but everything else points to an elite starter. Across 145.0 innings this season, Snell has allowed 33 earned runs while walking 53 hitters and striking out 168 (which translates to an ERA+ of 198). He’s got an incredibly hard fastball (96 mph) for a left handed starter and it tends to get hitters to swing and miss. He pairs it with (again) another hard pitch in his changeup (89 mph), a hard slider (89 mph), and a hard curve (82 mph). Everything he throws is fast, it stays down in the zone, and it gets hitters to whiff. It’s no wonder that he’s so effective. His most recent start came on August 26 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Snell went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 2 hits while walking 2 hitters and striking out 8.

Shane Bieber will make his fifteenth start of the year and will look to continue a solid rookie season. Across 79.2 innings this season, Bieber has allowed 40 earned runs while walking 15 hitters and striking out 83 (which translates to an ERA+ of 98). His most recent start came on August 26 against the Royals; in that game, Bieber went 5.1 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits while walking no one and striking out 7.

Sunday, September 2 4:10 p.m. ET: Ryan Yarbrough (LHP) v. Carlos Carrasco (RHP)

MLB doesn’t know who’s starting for the Rays this Sunday, but FanGraphs thinks that it’ll be Ryan Yarbrough, the 26-year-old who has made just six starts this season out of 32 appearances. Across 124.2 innings this year, Yarbrough has allowed 52 earned runs while walking 41 hitters and striking out 109 (which translates to an ERA+ of 108). He’s got a cutter (88 mph) that doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses in addition to a fourseam (90 mph) that tends to sink a bit. His change (82 mph) tends to drop off a bit as well, and his big sweeping slider (78 mph) is even slower still. His most recent start came on August 25 against the Red Sox; in that game, Yarbrough went 5.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 5 hits while walking 1 hitter and striking out 2.

Cookie just finished his best month of the season (.216/.247/.297 slash against, 10.00 K/BB ratio) in August, and if he can keep rolling like this into October, there’s a chance for something special. Overall this season, Carrasco has pitched in 154.2 innings and has allowed 58 earned runs while walking 31 hitters and striking out 178 (which translates to an ERA+ of 131). His most recent start came on August 28 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Carrasco went 7.2 innings and allowed zero runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 11.

Players to watch

  • C.J. Cron - Cron hasn’t been the best hitter for the Rays this season, but due to injuries and trades, he’s the best hitter on the team right now. Across 478 plate appearances this season, Cron is slashing .256/.324/.487 (which translates to a wRC+ of 122). He leads the team in doubles (24), home runs (25), and RBIs (60), so if anyone is going to do some damage this weekend, it’ll be Cron.
  • Joey Wendle - Hey I remember that guy! Remember when the Indians traded Joey Wendle for Brandon Moss? It seems like an eternity ago, but young Wendle has found his way to Tampa Bay and he’s in the middle of his best season to date. Across 432 plate appearances, Wendle is slashing .296/.346/.424 (which translates to a wRC+ of 112). With Mallex Smith on the DL, Wendle is the next best base stealer on the team with 12, so he may be able to manufacture some offense while on the bases.
  • Jose Alvarado - Alvarado signed with the Rays as an international free agent in 2012 when he was 17. He made his MLB debut last season at the age of 22 and he looked good in his limited time. 2018 is his first full season and he’s been absolutely dominant. Across 56.1 innings this year, Alvarado has allowed just 14 earned runs while walking 25 hitters and striking out 62 (which translates to an ERA+ of 183). He’s got a blazing fastball (98 mph) that gets ground balls as well as a hard slider (88 mph) and a hard curve (85 mph) that gets whiffs and fly balls, respectively.
  • Ryne Stanek - Another young pitcher in his first full season, Stanek has had a brilliant year so far. Across 54.1 innings, Stanek has allowed 15 earned runs while walking 21 hitters and striking out 66 (which translates to an ERA+ of 164). He too has an incredible fastball (99 mph), and he also pairs it with a hard slider (90 mph) that generates whiffs while mixing in a splitter (89 mph) that gets whiffs AND flyballs. Fun times.

Storylines

September Call-Ups

Starting on Saturday, the roster will expand to 40, which means that there will be a lot of young faces on the team. This will be a good chance to not only get some youngsters some experience at the major league level, but it will also allow some of the regulars to get some rest as the team preps for the postseason.

Will the front office make any move before August ends?

There’s hardly a day left for the Indians to claim someone off of waivers to help down the stretch run and into the playoffs. Injuries have decimated a lot of the key players for the Indians this season, and there aren’t many players available who could make a huge impact. But the Cleveland FO has been known to be creative and effective in the past, so they may have one last trick up their sleeve to bolster the roster before it locks in for October.

Can we not boo Cody Allen?

Yes, this has been a pretty down year for Commander Cody this season. Every meltdown he has probably flushes millions of potential contract dollars down the drain. And there are few things in sports more frustrating than blowing a baseball game in the final innings. But booing home players is something normally reserved for Yankee Stadium. Let’s keep it that way.

Tampa Bay Rays roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Rays?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    3
    (10 votes)
  • 65%
    2
    (53 votes)
  • 8%
    1
    (7 votes)
  • 13%
    0
    (11 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now