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Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox series preview

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These two teams could meet again in October, so this one is kind of a big deal

MLB: New York Mets at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox clinched the AL East for the third straight season last night against a divisional rival. Sounds eerily familiar to what the Cleveland Indians did last week. Now the two playoff bound AL teams will face off one last time in the regular season before potentially meeting again in the ALCS.

Looking ahead

There are only two series’ left following this weekend on with the Red Sox. The Tribe will travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox for three games before finishing up their season at Kauffman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals next weekend.

Pitching match-ups

Friday, September 21 7:10 p.m. ET: Chris Sale (LHP) v. Trevor Bauer (RHP)

Chris Sale might still be in line to get his first Cy Young award even though there are legitimate arguments to be made for other pitchers to get the award. He’s had yet another dominant year that’s been derailed by injuries; this will mark the first time since 2014 that Sale does not hit 200 innings in the regular season. But across his 150.0 innings this season that he has pitched, he’s been an absolute monster; 32 earned runs while walking 33 hitters and striking out 222 (which translates to an ERA+ of 227). He’s been going the “opener” route as he makes his way back from the DL, and his last start against the New York Mets came on September 16. In that game, Sale went 3.0 innings and allowed zero runs on 1 hit while walking no one and striking out 1.

HE’S BAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!! Trevor Bauer makes his triumphant return to the mound on Friday night. He’ll only go a few innings before giving way to Shane Bieber, so this may be the first instance in which both teams are intentionally using an “opener”. Bauer, like his Boston counterpart, was also on pace for a Cy Young season before a line drive hit his leg and took him out for over a month. Across 166.0 innings this season, Bauer has allowed 41 earned runs while walking 56 hitters and striking out 214 (which translates to an ERA+ of 198).

Saturday, September 22 7:10 p.m. ET: Rick Porcello (RHP) v. Mike Clevinger (RHP)

Alright, back to starters. The 2016 Cy Young award winner has not been as good as Boston fans would’ve hoped since his decorated season two years ago. This season, for example, while his win total is better (17), the rest of his stats point to an average season. Across 184.1 innings, Porcello has allowed 88 earned runs while walking 45 hitters and striking out 187 (which translates to an ERA+ of 101). His most recent start came on September 15 against the Mets; in that game, Porcello went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 2 hits while walking 1 hitter and striking out 5.

Mike Clevinger needs just four strikeouts to hit the 200 mark for the first time in his career and become the fourth Cleveland starter to hit that milestone this season. It sure would be neat if he does it this Saturday. Clev has taken huge strides this year and has become yet another dominant starter in the Cleveland rotation. Across 188.1 innings this season, Clevinger has allowed 64 earned runs while walking 62 hitters and striking out 196 (which translates to an ERA+ of 144). His most recent start came on September 15 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Clevinger went 6.0 innings and allowed zero runs on 1 hit while walking 3 hitters and striking out 5.

Sunday, September 23 7:05 p.m. ET: TBD (HP) v. Adam Plutko (RHP)

Kluber gets another day of rest, and filling in for him will be Adam Plutko. Plutko, like Josh Tomlin, likely won’t see the postseason roster and is here solely to eat innings and help Tito realign his rotation for the playoffs. That’s not to say that Plutko can’t make an impact in the future, but it’s not looking good for him come October. Across his 70.0 innings of work with Cleveland this season, Plutko has allowed 41 earned runs while walking 19 hitters and striking out 57 (which translates to an ERA+ of 84). His most recent start came on September 8 against the Toronto Blue Jays (he pitched an inning in relief against the Tigers on 9/16); in that game, Plutko went 4.2 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 9 hits while walking no one and striking out 4.

Players to watch

  • The offense
  • The starters
  • The bullpen

The Red Sox are really good

Storylines

How will Bauer’s leg hold up?

Trevor Bauer has been hellbent on getting back to the mound since the day after he took a line drive to the leg. Say what you want about Bauer, but you cannot deny that the dude competes lie nobody else and will do anything (even to the detriment of his own health) to play the game of baseball. I cannot wait to see him play again because when he’s on, he can go toe to toe with anyone in the league.

Jose Ramirez and the slump to end all slumps

It’s been talked about a lot here on LGT, but the fact remains that Jose Ramirez is colder than the beers in those fridges that were opened last night. This weekend will be the last good team that Jose faces before the playoffs begin, and it’s a team that he may face in a few weeks. Aside from Bauer looking healthy, nothing would make me happier than seeing Jose Ramirez completely mash this weekend.

Garbage lineup time

Since Boston clinched last night, it’s very possible that the Red Sox will trot out their own version of the hangover lineup on Friday night. Which is kind of nice because it should mean that the Indians can take this one. But I guess only time will tell.

Boston Red Sox lineup

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Red Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    3
    (11 votes)
  • 54%
    2
    (46 votes)
  • 27%
    1
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    You’re gonna put zero? The Browns just won a game, ANYTHING is possible now, friend.
    (5 votes)
85 votes total Vote Now