The offense must heat up
We discussed how Detroit’s record is an outlier considering how terrible their offense is, but here’s the ironic part: the Indians have been just as bad, and in some cases worse. Cleveland ranks 26th in the league in runs, 28th in OBP and dead last in slugging percentage.
The Indians have ridden the bat of Carlos Santana en route to their 6-3 start, but the lineup needs to become a chain. Santana and Hanley Ramirez have OPS’s of 1.067 and .909, respectively. Nobody else on the team has one above .700. Everyday leadoff hitter Leonys Martin has a 41.9% strikeout rate. Jose Ramirez, despite a long-established ability to draw free passes, has walked just 5.9% of the time.
Santana can’t be expected to carry the team for much longer, and it’s going to be a while before Francisco Lindor returns. The Indians need contributions up and down the lineup.
All this said the pitching matchups and offensive numbers point toward a relatively low-scoring series unless something gives.
Best/Worst Case Scenarios
Best Case: 3-0 series sweep and Mike Clevinger is ready to go
Mathematically, it isn’t likely that the Indians win seven games in a row. If they are going to sweep a second consecutive series, however, the Tigers are the team to do it against. Marching out Kluber, Bauer, and Bieber should give the Indians tremendous confidence in their ability to win every game of this series.
Regarding the mention of Mike Clevinger, it has become difficult not to get nervous when pitchers leave games unexpectedly (especially after five one-hit, scoreless innings). In the case of Clevinger’s early exit on Sunday, we should be keeping our ears to the ground for updates on his status throughout this series, even though he won’t pitch in it.
Worst Case: 1-2 series loss as bats remain in permafrost
Detroit’s solid pitching aside, there is no viable reason to expect their starters to out-duel the Tribe’s in three consecutive games. It is perfectly viable, however, to expect that the bottom half Cleveland’s lineup continues to struggle.
This series has the makings of the all-too-familiar “Corey Kluber throws seven scoreless, Indians lose 1-0” headline. Thankfully, the opposite is also true: “Tribe bats come to life in 11-0 victory over Detroit.” What a sight for sore eyes that would be.
The series starts on Tuesday, and all three games will start at 1:10 pm EST.