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Cleveland Indians: A quick look at the four game set against Houston

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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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After facing the World Series Champs just last weekend the Cleveland Indians will face the Astros yet again, but this time in Cleveland.

Well, it was an interesting road trip for the Cleveland Indians to say the least. The Tribe dropped two of three in Detroit and Houston before sweeping the Cubs in two games at Wrigley Field. Now; because the MLB scheduling is absolutely obnoxious, the Indians have to face the Astros again after just playing them last weekend in Houston. This weekend will be a huge test for the Indians. The Astros have proven to be a better road team this year than they are at home.

This preview will be a little bit shorter to avoid repeating some of the same statements made in last week’s version. You guys already know the lineups these teams have to offer. Mainly because the lineups haven’t really changed aside from the addition of Melky Cabrera to the Indians lineup.

Due to these teams playing each other so closely together the pitching matchups are actually the same as last weekend. The only difference is that the extra game means there will be a fourth matchup between Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. Let’s take a closer look at that one.

Related Story: Previewing the series against the Astros

Sunday 5/27: RHP Gerrit Cole vs RHP Trevor Bauer

This is a matchup that probably won’t generate any headlines at all. Except for the fact that this is the first time that Trevor Bauer will be facing the team he kind of called out and accused(?) of using banned(?) substances. It’s all a very long and confusing story that included a Twitter war with Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers Jr. and the aforementioned Bauer. It has the weird petty aura similar to that of a team complaining about sign stealing and other menial things (looking at you, Justin Verlander and the 2017 Tigers).

But this is an article about baseball. Frankly a Twitter war between the outspoken Bauer and one of the best pitchers in baseball right now isn’t as important as winning this series for the Cleveland Indians. Trevor Bauer is coming off or an outstanding performance where he owned the Chicago Cubs. It wasn’t one of Bauer’s best outings by any means, but he kept finding ways to work out of tight situations against a loaded Cubs lineup.

As said above, Gerrit Cole is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now. Transitioning from the NL to the AL has had little to no effect on Cole. If anything, he’s actually gotten much better. You may not have noticed it since he’s currently living under the shadow of ace and known crybaby Justin Verlander, but Cole is second in the AL in ERA at 1.86. He actually allowed two earned runs in his last start against the San Francisco Giants but he still struck out eight.

This will be his first start at Progressive Field and just his second time facing the Tribe. His first game against them came back in 2015 when he worked eight innings allowing three runs on five hits, but he still got the win.

Other matchups

Other matchups include Charlie Morton (HOU) vs Mike Clevinger (CLE), Dallas Keuchel (HOU) vs Corey Kluber (CLE), and Lance McCullers Jr.(HOU) vs Carlos Carrasco (CLE). These are the same three matchups as last weekend.

Storylines

These guys look familiar

As I said, we just played these guys two games ago. It wasn’t a great series for the Tribe but they didn’t get killed either. The Indians have found ways to stay competitive against good teams and lose horribly to bad ones this year. Cleveland needs to find a way to use the familiarity to their advantage. They are coming off of beating one of the best lineups in baseball in the Cubs while the Astros are coming off of taking it to the sleepwalking Giants.

In the two game split in Chicago, the bullpen allowed only one run. That’s been unheard of for the Indians this month, but it may be enough to give them some momentum. Andrew Miller worked 5 outs last night so don’t expect to see him in the first game or two of this series. But the rest of the bullpen could try to fill the void. Maybe Josh Tomlin can get some work done out of the been with multiple innings. Sure he may allow a home run, but maybe it won’t be a 3-run blast.

Worst/Best case scenario

 Worst case: 1-3 series loss: The Cleveland Indians are a bit outmatched here thanks to some remarkable pitching by the Astros. They have a better bullpen and right now their rotation is playing better than anyone. Their “worst” pitcher right now is a former Cy Young winner in Dallas Keuchel. Don’t expect two horrible outings from him in a week span. Thankfully for the Tribe, he is pitching against their Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber. If it’s anything like last weekend; that’s the matchup you can expect Cleveland to win.

Best case: 3-1 series win: It’s a bit of a stretch, yes. But the Indians are starting to play a little bit better. Anything above allowing your bullpen to blow five-run leads should be considered “better” But the Cleveland Indians have had the Astros’ number in recent years. They went 5-1 against them last year. They have a chance to take a series at home this year to win the overall season series again thanks to some dominant pitching of their own.

Next: Tribe's outfield depth being tested right now

The first game of this series is tonight at 6:10 PM and will continue throughout this weekend with two night games and a Sunday matinee on Memorial Day. Enjoy the weekend and stay safe y’all.

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