Cleveland Indians: What the Tribe’s Pitching Staff is Up Against in the ALDS

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Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) singles during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) singles during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Pitching vs. Boston Hitting

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The stat line again for Boston in six games against the Cleveland pitching staff: .291/.364/.507 slash line and OPS+ of 144. Indians pitchers, like just about everyone else in MLB, had a tough time containing a Red Sox lineup with seemingly few holes one through nine.

Game one starter Trevor Bauer, who appeared in two games against the BoSox including one start, yielded six runs on ten hits in six innings of work (9.00 ERA) during the regular season. He walked three, gave up two home runs, and struck out just one.

Boston hitters slashed .357/.438/.643 against Bauer, with an OPS of 1.080 and an OPS+ of 165 that were the highest he allowed against any opponent. Betts, Ortiz, and Ramirez are the most dangerous matchups based upon the small sample size of facing the right-hander in their careers, as they have combined to go 9-for-15.

The Red Sox have a bit bigger book against Kluber, the game two starter, and had as much success against him in 2016 as just about any other team. In two starts spanning 12.1 innings, the BoSox scored six runs on 14 hits (.280/.333/.460), amassing a 96 OPS+. Kluber struck out 11 and walked four in those outings, and also served up two longballs.

Career-wise, Boston’s hitters are 36-for-130 against the 2014 AL Cy Young winner, with Betts, catcher Bryan Holaday, Holt, and Shaw having the most success. Kluber has had success neutralizing Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Ortiz, and continuing to do so will be a key in slowing the Red Sox down.

It may come as a shock, but the Tribe starter that fared best against Boston this season, and over his career, has been John Tomlin, who is the probable choice to be on the bump in game three at Fenway. In a single start this season, Tomlin held the Red Sox to three runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings of work (.241/.241/.448), good for an OPS+ of just 66.

In his career against these BoSox players, the 31-year old Texan has yielded just a .217 average (20-for-92). 16 of those hits have been singles and four were home runs, and he has done a number on Betts and Ortiz, who are a combined 4-for-23.

As far as the bullpen, the main four relievers of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Dan Otero for the Indians have been extremely solid this season against Boston, not allowing a single run in 8.2 innings, giving up eight hits and striking out 12.

In their careers, only Otero has had major struggles with the Red Sox, as seen below:

  • Cody Allen: 4-for-29 (.138)
  • Andrew Miller: 12-for-58 (.207)
  • Bryan Shaw: 6-for-32 (.188)
  • Dan Otero: 11-for-26 (.423)

If Cleveland’s starters can keep the game in hand long enough to turn things over the relief corps, all historical signs point to the team being able to shut the BoSox down. History tends to go out the window in the playoffs, of course, but the Indians’ bullpen has been a decided team strength for the past two months, and there’s no reason to believe that can’t continue.

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