RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (HOU)
It’s the matchup we’ve wanted for two years and we finally get it. Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander have faced off a few times before but this is the first time the Indians have faced Verlander when he’s in an Astros uniform. Verlander has a history of being rocked by the Cleveland Indians lineup. In 2017 alone, Verlander had an 8.14 ERA going 1-3 against the Tribe. He’s been beaten so bad to the point where he became a big whiney goober baby and complained that the Indians were stealing signs against him. If that’s the case, there is sure to be plenty sign stealing in game one if the Indians are able to beat him.
Corey Kluber had a remarkable 2018 season in terms of wins. He beat the Astros twice and was stellar in both outings against them, rocking a 1.35 ERA against them. We all know how Kluber’s October went in 2017. In order for the Indians to be successful and move on in this series, they need Kluber to be his usual self, if not better.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (CLE) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (HOU)
Carlos Carrasco gets the nod in game two. He’s had himself a tremendous career in Houston, with a 1.17 ERA and 28 strikeouts. Needless to say, Cookie loves H-Town. But this is obviously a different season for Carrasco. His ERA was at it’s highest since 2015, but after his injury in June, his season turned around. While susceptible to the long ball, Cookie has been a strikeout wizard in the final months of 2018 with 103 strikeouts in the final 2 months of the season.
Gerrit Cole was a godsend for this Astros rotation. He quickly took over the second starter slot with an incredible season. He’s had a career year with 276 strikeouts in just over 200 innings. Cole faced Cleveland once and it wasn’t his best outing. He had a 3.86 ERA against the Tribe, a game which the Astros won due to a bullpen collapse from the Indians.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (HOU) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger
Dallas Keuchel had some serious issues against the Tribe this year. He had a 4.91 ERA in two losses against Cleveland. While this happened in April, it’s an interesting thing to keep in mind. The Indians have proven themselves capable of beating all three Astros starters, so it will be interesting to see how Houston uses these key components in must-win situations.
Mike Clevinger didn’t fare very well against the ‘Stros. He had a 6.17 ERA in two outings resulting in two losses. The Indians may find themselves in a plethora of situations in game 3 so Clevinger will have to be on his game no matter what. Fortunately, he’s done just that recently. In the final two months of 2018, he’s had ERAs of 2.21 and 2.12. He’s been an extremely valuable asset to the Indians rotation, but he finds himself in the biggest role he’s played of his career in game three.
Game four will see either Trevor Bauer or Shane Bieber take the mound for the Indians. We aren’t entirely sure who will pitch for the Astros, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they send out Lance McCullers or Charlie Morton.