clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Atlanta Braves

New, 41 comments

The Indians start their next home stand with some interleague play.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball can be strange. The Indians finished up the most recent road trip with a 5-4 record, but they did it in the strangest way possible. All told, the Tribe sits 11-7, best in the AL Central. So far in 2019, the Indians haven’t lost to teams outside of the AL Central, which is good considering that their next opponent is from the NL East. The Atlanta Braves are young, exciting, and coming off of a season that saw them win their division but lose to the in the NLDS (sound familiar?).

How are the Braves doing in 2019?

Team in a box

2019 Atlanta Braves

Record 9-9
Record 9-9
Runs Scored 91
Runs Allowed 83
Run Differential +8
Streak L3
AVG .263
OBP .360
SLG .447
OPS .807
wRC+ 111
K/9 8.72
BB/9 4.61

The Braves are hitting pretty well. but their pitching is holding them back. If the Mariners were in the top tier in terms of offense this season, the Braves are in the tier just below them. The pitching, on the other hand, has had its struggles but there have been some standout performances along the way. Overall, it’s landed them in fourth in the NL East, but they’re just 2 games back of the division leading Phillies. The NL East is going to be a fun division this season, so if you’re looking for a division to follow outside of the AL Central, the NL East may be a good bet. The Braves just finished getting swept in a 3-game series by the Diamondbacks.

Projected starters

Friday, April 19 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Touki Toussaint (v. Corey Kluber)

Touki Toussaint got his MLB start last season and he looked fairly average in his 29.0 innings. He’s only had one game so far this season, but it’s looking like he’ll be a mainstay in the Braves’ rotation, at least for the time being. He’s got a great curveball (75 mph) and splitter (85 mph), both of which can get hitters to whiff often. He can pair the offspeed pitches with a fastball (93 mph) and a sinker (92 mph), and each of those pitches result in balls in play more often than not. His one appearance this year came on April 13 against the New York Mets; in that game, Toussaint went 6.0 innings and allowed 0 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7.

Saturday, April 20 4:10 p.m. ET: RHP Julio Teheran (v. Trevor Bauer)

If you’re looking for a great pitching match-up, Saturday could be your game. Julio Teheran, despite struggling so far this year, is expected to be a strong starter for the Braves in 2019. And Trevor Bauer is, well, you know. For Teheran, he’s been underwhelming out of the gate this season. In 2019, Teheran has pitched in 21.0 innings and has allowed 11 earned runs while walking 10 and striking out 23 (ERA+ 95). His fastball (91 mph) isn’t very impressive, but his slider (82 mph) and curve (76 mph) are good at inducing swings and misses whereas his change (84 mph) and sinker (90 mph) induce fly balls. His most recent start came on April 14 against the New York Mets; in that game, Teheran went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out 6.

Sunday, April 21 7:05 p.m. ET: LHP Max Fried (v. Shane Bieber)

Max Fried is on fire to start the season. He initially started in the bullpen, but he transitioned into the rotation after just two games and he’s been fantastic. Across 19.2 innings this year, Fried has allowed just 2 earned runs while walking 4 and striking out 12 (ERA+ a silly 491). He’s got a fantastic sinking fastball (94 mph), a great curve (75 mph), and a sweeping slider (83 mph). His most recent start came on April 16 against the Arizona Diamondbacks; in that game, Fried went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3.

Lineup highlights

  • OF Ronald Acuna Jr.: Ronald Acuna Jr. exploded into the baseball world last season with an incredible rookie season that resulted in him winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. If anything, he’s been even better this season. Across 76 plate appearances, Acuna Jr. is slashing .322/.452/.678 (wRC+ 178). He’s walking a lot (16.3%) and he’s also striking out a lot (21.3%) but less than a season ago. And his BABIP (.350) is right in line with what it was in 2018 (.352), so it isn’t like he’s getting lucky. Hopefully Francisco Lindor is back for this series so fans in Cleveland get a chance to see two of the best young players in the game.
  • 1B Freddie Freeman: It seems like Freddie Freeman has been around for a while, but he hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Ever since he became a regular player in 2011, he’s been one of the best players in baseball. So far in 2019, Freeman is slashing .324/.446/.500 (wRC+ 150). He, like Acuna Jr., is walking more (16.9%) and striking out less (15.7%)
  • SS Dansby Swanson: Dansby Swanson is finally starting to live up to his #1 overall pick hype from when he was drafted back in 2015. He’s been a full-time player the past two seasons, but he hasn’t been good in either of those seasons. In 2019, however, it’s a different story. Across 69 plate appearances, Swanson is slashing .273/.391/.564 (wRC+ 140). His BABIP (.275) is slightly under his career average (.301), so there’s still a chance he could continue to improve. His hitting profile follows the same pattern as Acuna Jr. and Freeman: he’s walking more (15.9%) and striking out less (18.8%). Kudos to hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.

Storylines

The return of Francisco Lindor

Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Francisco Lindor should be back in the lineup for the Cleveland Indians, hopefully tonight. The Indians lineup has held its own in his absence, but getting Lindor back should begin to help lengthen the lineup and improve the offense all around (it may take some of the pressure off of Jose Ramirez).

Redemption time for Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber has struggled recently. With Mike Clevinger down for who knows how long, the Tribe can’t afford to lose more starters to injury or ineffectiveness. Carlos Carrasco recently had a bounce back start, so this weekend will be a good chance for Kluber to put some minds at ease.

Atlanta Braves lineup

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Braves?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    3
    (18 votes)
  • 60%
    2
    (67 votes)
  • 18%
    1
    (20 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (6 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now