Cleveland Indians-Texas Rangers Series Preview

Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Indians-Texas Rangers Series Preview 5/30-6/1

The Cleveland Indians (26-22) welcome the Texas Rangers (29-21) to town this Memorial Day for three-game series. The Indians enter the series just 0.5 games behind the first place Kansas City Royals while the Rangers hold a 0.5 game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the American League West. This is the first meeting between the two clubs in 2016 who split their six games in 2015.

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The Indians will send out Josh Tomlin (7-0, 3.35 ERA), Corey Kluber (4-5, 3.78), and Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.34). The Rangers will counter with Derek Holland (3-4, 5.21), Colby Lewis (4-0, 3.38), and Cole Hamels (5-1, 3.34). Tomlin will look to not only remain undefeated in 2016 but undefeated following an Indians loss. He looks to improve to 13-0 following a Tribe loss over the last two years.

The Indians will face a pair of left-handed starters this series, which likely means more Rajai Davis in the leadoff spot. The Indians will also rely heavily on Francisco Lindor who is hitting a major league-best .429 versus left-handed pitching last year. The Rangers, meanwhile, will be lead by newcomer Ian Desmond who has made a seamless transition from shortstop to centerfield.

Keys to the Series

The Indians and Rangers rank second and fourth in runs scored per game in the American League. The key will be which pitching staff can keep the other team’s offense check. Specifically, the bullpens could play huge roles in the series. While the Tribe’s bullpen has been a sore spot all season, it’s been nothing compared to the Rangers’ bullpen, which has a league-worst 5.17 ERA. That’s over a half run higher than the next closest bullpen. The trouble for the Indians could be getting to the bullpen though as the Rangers’ starting rotation has the lowest ERA in the American League at just 3.49.

In addition to relying on Lindor’s bat, the Indians will continue to look for Jose Ramirez to continue his breakout season. Ramirez leads all Indians hitters with a .885 OPS in the month of May, while hitting .304. The Indians will also need veteran Mike Napoli to continue his hot hitting ways (.861 OPS in May). Napoli also leads the Indians with 10 home runs and 35 runs batted in on the season.

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First pitch in the series opener is tonight at 6:10 pm. Both clubs will be wearing special jerseys and caps in honor of Memorial Day. Tonight’s starting lineups for both clubs are as follows: