Cleveland Indians: Kicking off the final road trip in Chicago

The final road trip begins as the Cleveland Indians travel to the south side for one final duel with their lowly division rivals, the Chicago White Sox.

For one last time this year, the Cleveland Indians will face a team they saw no less than a week ago. It’s been an entire week since the Indians have faced a team that doesn’t end with the word Sox. The Indians took two of three games against Chicago and followed that up by taking two of three against Boston.

The Indians look like they’re starting to heat up right as they’re heading into the playoffs. Guys like Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, and Michael Brantley are red-hot, and the pitching is really starting to find it’s rhythm.

But there are still games to be played. A week’s worth of games against the AL Central to be exact. The idea is to keep everyone healthy and plan for who will be on the ALDS playoff roster. There is no need to over-stress the key players on the roster in games that are essentially meaningless. I think there is a good chance a lineup that looks more like that of the Columbus Clippers in the coming days.

That being said, we will still see the Indians starting pitchers work fairly deep into games. The Indians will send the usual starters to the mound and that’s what we’re going to take a look at here.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) vs. RHP Dylan Covey (CHW)

Corey Kluber earned his 19th win of the season against the White Sox last week, and he’ll look to do the same here for win number 20. Kluber has a remarkable 1.29 ERA against the White Sox and he’s absolutely dominated the AL Central and has won seven of his last 10 starts. At this point, fans will collectively hold their breaths once October rolls around, in the hope that we get to see Kluber pitch like the Cy Young winner that we know.

Speaking of the Cy Young award, the Indians made Dylan Covey look like a candidate for the award in his last outing. He pitched six frames of two-hit baseball without allowing a run. He had a knack for inducing groundball outs with his sinker dominating the Indians lineup. Covey hasn’t been the best against Cleveland this year, but another outing like that will certainly help pad his stats.

RHP Trevor Bauer (CLE) vs. RHP James Shields (CHW)

Trevor Bauer worked just an inning and a third of work on Friday, allowing two hits and striking out one. This time he’ll likely work a few more innings before Carlos Carrasco takes over out of the bullpen. Bauer would love to pitch the entire game but the key is to give him the reps needed before the postseason begins. The Indians will try to work him back to the point where he can be the second or third starter for the Tribe in October.

James Shields did a relatively good job of containing the Indians lineup in their last meeting. He did allow two home runs, but other than that he kept the Indians at-bay long enough to give Chicago the win on Thursday. Shields has done a good job of giving the White Sox six to seven innings of work, but he still has a tough time getting the job done for them.

RHP Shane Bieber (CLE) vs. TBA (CHW)

Shane Bieber pitched in relief of Trevor Bauer on Friday, and the Red Sox didn’t forget a thing about him. He surrendered six earned runs against Boston in this loss marking his second defeat in a row. This will likely be Bieber’s final start of 2018 before he is either regulated to the bullpen for the playoffs or left off the 25-man postseason roster.

Worse/Best case scenario

Worse case: 0-3 series loss

I know these games don’t matter, but the Indians have been swept just once this season, it would be pretty depressing to see that happen here. The chances of a sweep are pretty slim, but that’s really the only bad (and I use that term loosely) thing that can come from this series outside of an injury.

Best case: 3-0 series win, everyone stays healthy

Pretty cut and dry stuff here. Go into Chicago, beat the snot out them like you have all year, maintain health in the process. It’ll be interesting to see if Chicago takes any different approaches in this final week of the season, but the Indians should be able to handle business pretty easily here.

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This series consists of three 8:10 PM start times and will continue until Wednesday. From their thei Indians make the trip to Kansas City for the final series of the regular season.