The Cleveland Indians continue their home-stand against their division foes the Kansas City Royals, in an attempt to rebound from a lost series.
The Cleveland Indians can come out of their slump anytime now. After getting off to a hot start in August, they’ve found themselves in the midst of a 4-7 slump. While that isn’t the end of the world and they still hold a 14 game lead over the Twins, the Indians are simply not playing their best baseball.
Meanwhile the Royals have won seven of their last 10, including a series win over the Tribe two weeks ago. Not much has changed since these two teams last met. The Indians have added Josh Donaldson, but it’s straight to the DL for him for his rehab assignment.
We don’t need to get into the lineups due to the recent play of these teams so let’s take a look at the pitching matchups.
RHP Jakob Junis (KCR) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (CLE)
Jakob Junis has not had fun against the Indians this year. He’s pitched 11 innings against the Tribe with an ERA of 9.82. He did; however pitch the first complete game of his career last week against the Tigers.
The Indians have lost the last three starts that Plutko has made. Really nothing has worked for Plutko in 2018. In every inning he has an ERA of 3.00 or greater including a 9.00 ERA in the fifth innings. Plutko will remain in the lineup for a few more weeks at least. We’ve had few updates on Trevore Bauer but if Plutko continues to struggle, we may see someone else start with the September roster expansion.
LHP Danny Duffy (KCR) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (CLE)
Danny Duffy is another Royals pitcher who has struggled mightily against the Indians this year. Duffy has a 10.80 ERA against the Tribe and is one of many lefties to have suffered at the hands of the Cleveland offense. The month of August was brutal for Duffy with a 6.04 ERA in the month.
Mike Clevinger looked remarkable in his last outing. Sunshine pitched 6.2 scoreless innings against the Twins with nine strikeouts. That’s exactly what we need to see from Clevinger down the stretch. There’s a good chance he starts the ALDS in the bullpen barring unforeseen changes to Bauer’s progress. But for now, it’ll be nice if Clevinger can continue to turn things around.
RHP Brad Keller (KCR) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (CLE)
Righty and apparently the Indians worst nightmare, Brad Keller takes the mound for the finale on Wednesday. He’s got a 1.93 ERA against the Tribe. He’s also riding a three game win-streak heading into this outing. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the Royals rotation with a 3.26 ERA and he’s only getting better.
Corey Kluber had himself another gem against the Rays over the weekend. He worked seven innings of scoreless baseball and earned his 17th win on the year. Kluber needed an outing like Friday’s as he’d struggled a bit in the past few months. If Kluber was able to stop one of the hottest teams in baseball, hopefully he can stop the Royals.
Worst/Best case scenario
Worse case: 1-2 series loss
I refuse to say the Indians will be swept until it happens again. But the Royals took advantage of the slumping Indians in their last meeting, and the team hasn’t looked too much better. They did run into the hottest team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays. But if the Indians don’t improve their lackluster offense they could be in for a long week.
Best case: 3-0 series win
This could be a series for the Indians to use as a rebound. A sweep here would cap off the home-stand nicely and put them in a great spot before heading out on a long road trip. If the offense comes alive here, they should have little to no problem with two of these games as they’ve dominated Royals pitching.
The series kicks off today at 4:10 PM EST. With two day games in this series you might want to work on your excuses to leave work. Not everyone gets Labor Day off.