One half of the Indians’ Opening Day matchup is set. The Francisco Lindor-less lineup will be facing All-Star starting pitcher Jose Berrios when the Indians open their 2019 campaign against the Minnesota Twins on March 28.
Berrios will most likely face Corey Kluber when the two teams meet at Target Field, but the Indians haven’t made it official yet.
Berrios is a 24-year-old with tremendous upside, and 2019 could be the year he starts to reach it. The 2012 first-round draft pick has a four-pitch repertoire that includes a mid-90s four-seam fastball, slider, cutter, and a work-in-progress change-up. Last season with the Twins, Berrios started 32 games and kept an ERA of 3.84 while striking out a quarter of the batters he faced. Like most young pitchers not named Shane Bieber, he struggled at times to keep walks under control with a 7.7 percent walk rate, including a career-high six walks in his August 9 outing against the Indians.
Last year was a mixed bag for Berrios against the Indians. He shut out the Tribe offense on April 18 with five strikeouts over 7.0 innings, but he allowed four runs in each of his other two starts against Cleveland with a combined nine strikeouts and seven walks in 10.0 innings.
With a right-hander on the mound, expect the Opening Day lineup to feature Tyler Naquin in right field and either Matt Joyce (if he can make the roster) or Jake Bauers as the designated hitter and/or left field and Hanley Ramirez riding the bench.