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Cleveland Indians: A look at the first matchup against the Rays

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Amazingly, for the first time in 2018 the Cleveland Indians will get to experience the enigma that is the Tampa Bay Rays and their estranged pitching methods.

Somehow at the start of September in 2018, the Cleveland Indians will face an AL opponent they haven’t faced all year. The Tampa Bay Rays will be coming to Cleveland and they’re bringing their interesting method of pitching with them.

The Rays employ the “opener system” where it is practically a bullpen game with the starter going one to two innings. In fact the only regular starter they employ is Blake Snell, who is having himself a monster year.

If the Rays played in the AL Central, the Indians would actually have a team giving them a run for their money. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, they have the Red Sox and Yankees in their division. Their recent hot performance (9-1 in their last 10 games) is almost too little, too late for these Rays. Nonetheless they can still present a formidable challenge for the Tribe, as Cleveland has played with lingering inconsistency of late.

Projected Lineups

Tampa Bay Rays (71-62) vs. Cleveland Indians (76-57)

Tampa Bay Rays: SS Willy Adames, LF Tommy Pham, 3B Matthew Duffy, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Jon Wendle, RF Carlos Gomez, CF Kevin Kiermaier, C Jesus Sucre

Cleveland Indians: SS Francisco Lindor, LF Michael Brantley, 3B Jose Ramirez, DH Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Yonder Alonso, RF Melky Cabrera, 2B Jason Kipnis, C Yan Gomes, CF Greg Allen

If you haven’t seen the Rays play since the last time the Indians faced them, you might be wondering who in the world some of these players are. Kevin Kiermaier looks like the only recognizable name in the Rays lineup, aside from Tommy Pham who just came over from St. Louis. No one in the Rays lineup is batting over .300, although Matthew Duffy’s hot play has him rather close at .298.

Talk about an enigma. Arguably the most hotly debated player in the Indians lineup is playing his best baseball at the right time. Jason Kipnis is batting .360 in the last week with two homers in that span. The bottom of the Indians order is still producing meanwhile Francisco Lindor is looking like he’s found his groove again.