Cleveland Indians: What the Tribe’s Pitching Staff is Up Against in the ALDS
The Cleveland Indians face a tall task in trying to contain Boston’s offense. What to do the stats say about the Red Sox lineup?
It’s not a secret to the Cleveland Indians or anyone else. The Boston Red Sox can score runs. Lots and lots of runs. Boston was the top scoring team in Major League Baseball during the regular season, and it wasn’t even close. For Cleveland to stand any chance of winning the American League Division Series with the Red Sox, limiting the damage its hitters do must be the top priority.
The BoSox averaged nearly 5.5 runs per game as a team, and led the AL in hits, doubles, runs batted in, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. From a value perspective, Boston also led the league in total bWAR among position players and offensive wins above replacement.
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So the biggest offensive juggernaut in baseball in 2016 will be facing a Cleveland pitching staff that will be without two of its top three starting pitchers in Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, and with an ace in Corey Kluber who is recovering from a quadriceps strain that forced him to miss his final regular season start. If it seems like a tall order, that’s because it is.
But the Indians staff has been among the best in the league all season long, leading in ERA+, bWAR among pitchers, strikeouts, and wins above average, and placing among the top three clubs in ERA, FIP, strikeouts per nine innings, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Throw in the fact that the club has among the most dominant bullpens in the game, and the circumstances perhaps don’t feel quite as dire.
Winning the ALDS and moving deeper into October will surely not be easy. Boston took four out of six games from Cleveland during the regular season, outscoring them 31-18, and blistering the ball to the tune of a collective .291/.364/.507 slash line and OPS+ of 144. Of course, the Red Sox did that to nearly every opponent this year.
Who will Tribe pitchers be seeing in the BoSox lineup, and how can they best exploit their weaknesses? Let’s dive in and have a look.