In what could’ve been sold as a huge showdown, the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox will face off in a meaningless weekend series.
The first series between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox was a true duel of powerhouses resulting in a series split at 2-2. The circumstances are a bit different this time around for these teams. Both the Red Sox and Indians have clinched their respective divisions and both will be resting key players in time for their impending playoff matchups.
For the Red Sox, they’re locked in at the top spot in baseball with over a week remaining. It’s been a historic season for Boston, but they have their eyes set on more important things. The smart choice for Boston is to rest their big-name stars and keep an eye on their unreliable bullpen.
As for the Indians, they are in a similar situation. They’ve clinched the AL Central, and they’re setting up their rotation for a playoff matchup where they’ll likely see the Houston Astros.
With that in mind, these two times like likely be flipping their lineups around quite a bit this weekend. The Indians have been using a mixture of Yandy Diaz and Josh Donaldson at 3B. Expect to see mainly just Josh Donaldson in October.
Jason Kipnis continues to get as many reps as possible in center field, and the rest of the defense has some kinks to iron out. The Red Sox have also continued to flip their lineup around with Steve Pearce and Brock Holt seeing a lot more action.
Even the pitching matchups for this series will be a bit interesting. It’s likely we’ll see a lot of bullpen action from both teams.
LHP Chris Sale (BOS) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (CLE)
The Red Sox continue their bullpen experiment with Chris Sale as they work him back to full health in time for the postseason. In his first game back, Sale pitched just one inning, then three in his second game, so expect to see anywhere from 3-5 innings from Chris Sale in this outing.
Oh, what could’ve been. This had potential to be a matchup of two Cy Young contenders. But due to injury, both Sale and Trevor Bauer will have to settle for limited starts in their head-to-head matchup. This will be Trevor Bauer’s first game since hitting the DL on August 11th. Expect to see 3 innings or so from Bauer before Shane Bieber takes over from the bullpen.
RHP Rick Porcello (BOS) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (CLE)
We’re treated to another great pitching matchup in this one in which the starters will likely go a bit longer. Rick Porcello takes the mound for the Sox, and he didn’t have a great time with these Indians in their last meeting. He was taken for a ride allowing 5 runs throughout seven innings. Fortunately for the Boston offense was explosive enough to keep him in that game. Porcello figures to be the third starter in the Boston playoff rotation.
Mike Clevinger is getting hot at the right time. He has a 2.31 ERA in his last 11 outings and is four strikeouts away from the 200 club alongside Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer. He’s set to be the fourth man in this rotation of domination for the Indians. Clevinger hasn’t faced the Red Sox this year, but he had some serious struggles against them in his rookie year.
TBA (BOS) vs. Adam Plutko (CLE)
Here is the shining example of how this serious doesn’t mean much to these teams. The Red Sox have said they’ll likely be utilizing their bullpen a lot in the coming days. They don’t have a starter yet for this game so keep an eye on their approach.
As for the Indians, they’re sending Adam Plutko to the mound for this Sunday Night baseball matchup. Plutko likely won’t be on the playoff roster unless he’s featured in the bullpen. He’ll be getting his final reps as a starter for 2018 this week.
Worse/Best Case scenario
Worse case: Someone gets hurt
The record for this series doesn’t matter. Realistically none of them do until October at this point. They key focus for the remaining week is for the guys to stay lose and stay healthy. This final week of the season should be viewed as a Spring Training-type period. If anything happens to the starters or to someone in the lineup, chaos will ensue.
Best case: Clean wins, bragging rights.
All there really is to win in this series is bragging rights. Even that won’t last long if the Indians play the Red Sox in the ALCS, that would be the real showdown. But fans still like wins and they still like to talk. If the Tribe can win this series and stay healthy doing it, it’s an added bonus.
The series kicks off tonight in what will be the most intriguing game of this three-game series. All three matches this weekend will be night-time games, so plan accordingly as you can still make time for football.