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Series Preview: Indians vs. Pirates

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The Battle for Erie and the regular season comes to a close this weekend

Cleveland Indians v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Well, here we are.

The Indians could not have asked for a more perfect set up to run into the playoffs like a bullet train. They are coming off a sweep of the White Sox — a feat which helped them make up a five-game deficit — and they have won their last five overall. Better yet, they get to finish the season against a young rebuilding team they should, in theory, be able to steamroll.

Even the worst teams in this shortened 60-game season have ebbed and flowed throughout, but not the Pirates. They have stayed at the bottom of the barrel; despite currently being on a three-game winning streak they are 18-39 on the season with a National League-worst 84 run differential.

They are led offensively by 23-year-old rookie and former first-round pick Ke’Bryan Hayes, who made his debut on Sept. 1 and has enjoyed a .329/.395/.603 slash with four home runs and a team-leading 164 wRC+. I don’t have to heart to tell Pirates fans it’s all smoke and mirrors based on his sky-high BABIP. Just let them have this.

The Indians currently sit two games back of the AL Central lead, and one back of the White Sox. Catching either team would net them home-field advantage in the three-game Wild Card round. They could also find themselves in a three-way tie, which would trigger all sorts of fun tiebreaker scenarios.

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

Friday, Sept. 25, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Mitch Keller vs. Carlos Carrasco
Don’t believe the ERA lies when it comes to Mitch Keller. A 97.2% strand rate and .132 BABIP have hidden his walk issues well this year, but the 24-year-old is walking 15.2% of the batters he faces while striking out 19.7%. He’s a heavy fastball pitcher with a slider, curve, and changeup to complement it.

Saturday, Sept. 26, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Joe Musgrove vs. Aaron Civale
Joe Musgrove is striking out more batters than ever, but it doesn’t matter when you walk and give up home runs alongside it. That’s exactly what Musgrove has done in his seven starts, though most recently he pitched a hitless 6.0 innings against the Cardinals in which he struck out a season-high 11.

Sunday, Sept. 27, 3:10 p.m. ET: JT Brubaker vs. TBD
Five years after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, JT Brubaker made his debut with the Pirates. Like the rest of the Pirates, his results have been mixed, but he has a high spin on his curveball and has avoided getting hit too hard. The Indians will once against send poor, broken, and over-used TBD to the mound for his last hurrah. He is nothing but a human meat sack of calluses and torn ligaments begging for his sweet release. My only hope is that he can find rest after this start, wherever that may be.

Lineup Highlight

Erik González, SS - No Indians fan should have any ill will towards Erik González. He was a decent backup option for three years for the Indians, before they were able to steal Jordan Luplow away with a trade. After starting the year hot in Pittsburgh, González has fallen in line with the rest of his teammates and is now slashing .243/.272/.385 for a 74 wRC+.

Pirates roster

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    3
    (77 votes)
  • 44%
    2
    (74 votes)
  • 4%
    1
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (7 votes)
165 votes total Vote Now