Starting tonight the Indians will make their longest journey of the condensed 2020 season — all the way to the far away land of St. Louis, Missouri. There they will face the Cardinals, a team that has played eight fewer games than almost every other team due to a COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the year. They are coming off a sweep at the hands of the Pirates, arguably the worst team in baseball.
If you’re a fan of history and seeing legendary players make their last go ‘round, this is probably the last time you’ll see catcher Yadier Molina play the Indians. The 38-year-old future Hall of Famer is in the last year of his contract and it would not be surprising to see him hang it up with the team he’s called home for the last 17 years.
Pitcher Adam Wainright, who will be starting Sunday’s game, is also 38 but doesn’t seem ready to retire quite yet. Still, it might be the last time he plays against the Indians and maybe his last on the Cardinals, where he has pitched over 2,100 innings since 2005.
Team in a box
2020 Pittsburgh Pirates
Friday, Aug. 28, 8:15 p.m. ET: RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Triston McKenzie
Injuries have forced third-year pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon to shift from the bullpen to the rotation, a jump that he’s used to making during in short time in the majors. He hasn’t lasted long in any of his outings — peaking at 4.2 innings in his last start against the Reds — but he has struck out 17 batters in his 11.2 innings pitched. He features a four-seam, cutter, curve, changeup combination. When batters hit him, they hit him hard. But hitting him isn’t easy.
Saturday, Aug. 29, 1:15 p.m. ET: RHP Jack Flaherty vs. Carlos Carrasco
Twenty-four-year-old Jack Flaherty is one of the best young pitchers in baseball, relying on his off-speed stuff to induce weak contact and a vanishing walk rate. Flaherty’s curveball has some extra bite to it this season, but he’s also using his fastball more than ever before. He shut out the Royals over 5.0 innings in his last start, allowing only one hit and striking out three.
Sunday, Aug. 30, 2:15 p.m. ET: RHP Adam Wainwright vs. Aaron Civale
The series will wrap up with a contest between Adam Wainwright making his 321st career start and Aaron Civale making his 17th. The two are on complete opposite sides of the career spectrum, but they’re both very similar pitchers — both rely on attacking the zone with pitches with outlandish spin rates. Wainwright’s curveball spin this season sits in the 82nd percentile; he uses it more than any other pitch his expansive arsenal.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B - After a “down” year in 2019 (where he “only” had a 116 wRC+), Paul Goldschmidt is looking like the perennial MVP candidate the Cardinals thought they were acquiring from the Diamondbacks one offseason ago. Goldy, as he’s known, has slashed .333/.478/.507 on the season with an absurd 22.2% walk rate and 14.4% strikeout rate. That’s almost completely flipped from his career walk rate (13.7%) and strikeout rate (22.6%). Hitting the ball to all fields may not be how every batter can find success, but it’s how Paul Goldschmidt finds his, and he’s slapping the ball all over the field this year and rarely putting it on the ground.
Brad Miller, 2B - Ever since the Indians designated Brad Miller for assignment in the middle of last season, prompting Miller to say that the Indians “don’t want the best players,” he has been on a tear. First with the Phillies in 66 games last season and even more so with the Cardinals now. He is absolutely hitting the cover off the ball with a hard-hit rate in the 94th percentile and one of the best expected wOBA and expected batting averages in baseball. In other words, he’s making good, hard contact like one of the best.
How many games will the Indians win against the Cardinals?
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