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Series preview: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals

It seems like it’s taken forever to get to this point, but the Cleveland Indians are finally starting their final series of the regular season. They will end the year with somewhere between 89-93 wins, and that’s pretty neat. It’s been an up and down year for the Tribe, but overall it’s been another satisfying year for Cleveland baseball and I hope it goes on for another month.

Looking ahead

Next Friday, the ALDS begins with the Indians in Houston to take on the Astros in Game 1. The times have not been announced yet (there will be 4 games total that day), but I assume that the CLE/HOU game won’t be in the prime time slot. But I could be wrong. Keep checking LGT, we’ll have updates as they come out.

Pitching match-ups

Thursday, September 27 8:15 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) v. Glenn Sparkman (RHP)

Josh Tomlin is the longest tenured played on the Cleveland Indians right now. Drafted by the Tribe in the 19th round of the 2006 draft, Tomlin may be at the end of his time with the Cleveland Indians after he steps off the field on Thursday night. His year has been a disappointment no matter how you look at it, but it will be bittersweet to see someone who’s been with the team since I started following no longer be with the team (most likely). The numbers this year are bad (you all know this), but they don’t really matter at this point. Go out and have a great game, Josh. We’re all rooting for you.

Glenn Sparkman was with the Blue Jays last year and he owned an ERA of 63.00 on the season (he pitched 1 inning and allowed 7 earned runs). He’s brought that number down significantly this season with the Royals. Across 33.1 innings, Sparkman has allowed 18 earned runs while walking 15 hitters and striking out 25 (which translates to an ERA+ of 89). He hasn’t started a game since August 21, but his most recent appearance came in relief on September 20 against the Detroit Tigers. In that game, Sparkman went 4.0 innings (innings 2-5) and allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 1 and striking out 1.

Friday, September 28 8:15 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) v. Ian Kennedy (RHP)

Now we’re getting into guys who will definitely be pitching in October. Clevinger has been an absolute stud this season and he’s gotten better as the year has progressed. His numbers overall are fantastic. Across 193.1 innings this year, Clevinger has allowed 66 earned runs while walking 67 and striking out 202 (which translates to an ERA+ of 142). His most recent start came on September 22 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Clev went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 3 hits while walking 5 (ouch) and striking out 6.

Ian Kennedy looked better this season than he did last year, but overall he still had a disappointing season for the Royals. So far, Kennedy has had one great year for KC and two bad ones. In 2018, across 113.2 innings, he has allowed 58 earned runs while walking 39 hitters and striking out 103 (which translates to an ERA+ of 93). His most recent start came on September 21 against the Tigers; in that game, Kennedy went 7.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 7 hits while walking no one and striking out 6.

Saturday, September 29 7:15 p.m. ET: Corey Kluber (RHP) v. Jakob Junis (RHP)

You would think that Corey Kluber would be in line to start Game 1 of the ALDS, but starting him on Saturday would give him 5 days of rest instead of the normal 4 between starts. Will Tito go with Kluber? Only time will tell. You really can’t go wrong with Kluber; in 2018, across 210.0 innings, Kluber has allowed 66 earned runs while walking 32 hitters and striking out 216 (which translates to an ERA+ of 154). His most recent start came on September 24 against the Chicago White Sox; in that game, Kluber went 7.0 innings and allowed no runs on 4 hits while walking a batter and striking out 11. He’s October-ready.

In his first full season, Jakob Junis has had a slightly down season. Across 171.0 innings this year, Junis has allowed 84 earned runs while walking 42 hitters and striking out 158 (which translates to an ERA+ of 97). His most recent start came on September 22 against the Tigers; in that game, Junis went 6.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 8 hits while walking a batter and striking out 5.

Sunday, September 30 3:15 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) v. Eric Skoglund (LHP)

By starting on Sunday, Carlos Carrasco is in line to start in Game 1 of the ALDS on regular rest. This kind of makes sense, when you think about it, since Carrasco has been better on the road as opposed to at Progressive Field. He’s definitely been good enough to start Game 1; across 187.0 innings this season, Cookie has allowed 71 earned runs while walking 41 and striking out 225 (which translates to an ERA+ of 127). His most recent outing came on September 25 against the White Sox; in that game, Carrasco went 4.1 innings in relief and allowed 3 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 4 and striking out 8. In this start, he will act as the opener for Trevor Bauer, who will come in in relief.

Eric Skoglund has not pitched well this season. Across 65.0 innings, Skoglund has allowed 39 earned runs while walking 17 hitters and striking out 46 (which translates to an ERA+ of 79). His most recent start came on September 25 against the Cincinnati Reds; in that game, Skoglund went 2.1 innings and allowed no runs on 1 hit while walking no one and striking out 1.

Storylines

Stay healthy

The Cleveland Indians have four games left in the regular season before having a few days off to prep for the playoffs. The results in these games do *clap emoji* not *clap emoji* matter *clap emoji*. Sure, it’d be nice to watch the Indians end the season on a high note against arguably the most annoying team in their division. But if they lose each of these four games but everyone stays healthy, I consider that a win.

Final tweaks

This is the last chance for players like Jose Ramirez and Josh Donaldson to tinker with mechanics and approaches before the games start counting again next Friday. Last night, Donaldson notched four walks and Ramirez struck the ball well a couple of times and roped a double into the gap, all good signs. I want more good signs this weekend.

Final step for Trevor Bauer

Bauer has made two starts since returning from the DL. This weekend, he’ll make one more appearance in relief. Tito still hasn’t decided how he’ll use Bauer in the playoffs; it’s unclear as to whether he will be a starter or a reliever out of the bullpen. His velocity looked up in his last appearance and his curveball is looping splendidly, so look for him to put it all together this weekend in his final appearance before the postseason.

Kansas City Royals roster


FanGraphs

Poll

How many wins will the Indians end up with at the end up with at the end of the season?

This poll is closed.

  • 62%

    Who cares as long as they get 11 in the playoffs?

    (72 votes)

  • 0%

    89

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    90

    (0 votes)

  • 16%

    91

    (19 votes)

  • 18%

    92

    (21 votes)

  • 2%

    93

    (3 votes)



115 votes total

Vote Now

I wanted to also take a moment to thank all of you for reading these pieces over the course of this season. At times I know that they can feel formulaic and there are only so many ways that you can say that the Indians are good and the AL Central is bad. But regardless, I hope you all enjoyed the series as much as I enjoyed writing it. LGT continues to be the best source of Cleveland Indians news and analysis on the internet, and I’m happy that I get to be a small part of it every week. My hope is to continue to expand this series next season. Hopefully with a shiny new championship to defend.

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