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Series Preview: Indians vs. Cubs

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There will be no mentions of the year which we do not speak in this series preview

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Typically the Indians would have a rest advantage entering a series like this. They had Monday off and presumably took a relaxing day to reset. Unfortunately (for several reasons), the Cubs haven’t taken the field since Thursday due to the COVID-19 outbreak on the St. Louis Cardinals. So any kind of advantage there is out the window.

The Indians should be sending Mike Clevinger to the mound Tuesday as he recovers from a knee injury and rediscovers his curveball, but instead he’s in a box of shame following a rowdy Saturday night with teammate Zach Plesac. Adam Plutko will take his place and attempt to help the Indians catch the AL Central-leading Twins.

Plutko (and Game 2 starter Carlos Carrasco) will have his work cut out for him with the Cubs. Chicago’s offense as a whole ranks fifth in the majors with a 114 wRC+, buoyed by a fourth-best .332 on-base percentage. It also doesn’t help that Anthony Rizzo looks like an All-Star again, boasting a .238/.418/.452 slash (153 wRC+) and three home runs. Ian Happ has also ridden a 59.3% hard-hit rate to a sneaky great start to his season: .297/.409/.622 slash (183 wRC+) and three homers.

Rookie Nico Hoerner has yet to find his stride as the Cubs’ primary second baseman, but I have several Topps cards that would really appreciate him getting it together soon.

Team in a box

2020 Pittsburgh Pirates

Record 18-39
Record 18-39
Runs Scored 202
Runs Allowed 286
Run Differential -84
Last 10 4-6
AVG .218
OBP .282
SLG .349
OPS .631
wRC+ 71
ERA 4.71
SIERA 4.48
K-BB% 13.2%

Projected starters

Tuesday, August 11, 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Jon Lester vs. Adam Plutko
Through two starts, Jon Lester has just five strikeouts (that’s like one inning of work for Shane Bieber somehow), but he’s allowed a lone run an only issued two walks in 11.0 innings. His initial outing against the Reds was a no-hitter until he was taken out to preserve his arm. Lester has begun relying on his cutter over his standard four-seamer for the second-straight season — the experiment continues to be a success.

Wednesday, August 12, 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. Carlos Carrasco
Kyle Hendricks’ season so far has been two ace-like outings sandwiched around a dud. He went the distance in his 2020 debut, shutting out the Brewers and recording nine strikeouts en route to the victory. He was rocked for six runs in his second outing but bounced back for another dominant performance against the Royals. Expect a heavy dose of sinkers and changeups on Wednesday, with an occasional curve mixed in.

Lineup highlights

2B, Jason Kipnis - Yeah, sure he’s not exactly the main focus of the Cubs lineup (he’s not playing every day), but I’ll be damned if I’m going to preview the Cubs and not talk about Dirtbag. Small sample sizes are the devil this time of year, but Kip is hitting like it’s May of 2015 all over again. He’s played a part in six games for the Cubs and has six hits, two doubles, two home runs, and drew two walks in 18 plate appearances. He looks like he’s having a blast with his hometown team as he enters the twilight of his career and I couldn’t be happier for him.

SS, Javier Báez - Twenty-seven-year-old Javier Báez is one of the many Cubs still around since an undisclosed rain delay hit the Cleveland area in the fall of 2016. He has remained mostly the same player but with a creeping strikeout rate approaching 30%. He’s only drawn two walks in 54 plate appearances this year, but he has two doubles and three homers on the year, which puts him at an even 100 wRC+ and a weird-looking slash of .240/.278/.460.

Cubs roster

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Cubs?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    2
    (45 votes)
  • 49%
    1
    (73 votes)
  • 19%
    0
    (29 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now