The Cleveland Indians emerged from their first lengthy road trip with a 5-4 record. Up next is a five-game home stand, starting Friday with the Braves.
The Cleveland Indians return home to Progressive Field after a 5-4 road trip through Detroit, Kansas City, and Seattle. We probably thought they had a good chance of doing better than that considering the opponents, but the Tribe capped off their early-season journey with a sweep of the upstart Mariners, so let’s choose to look positively on the nine-game stretch.
The Indians will receive a visit from the Atlanta Braves in a three-game weekend tilt that has early playoff implications for both teams. Cleveland is looking to get out ahead of its AL Central competition, while the Braves are looking to keep in stride with their NL East counterparts.
It will be a series loaded with big names and potential All-Star starters, so let’s take a look at what to expect.
Cleveland Indians (11-7): 1. Leonys Martin /CF, 2. Jose Ramirez /3B, 3. Carlos Gonzalez /LF, 4. Carlos Santana /1B, 5. Jake Bauers /DH, 6. Jason Kipnis /2B, 7. Roberto Perez /C, 8. Greg Allen /RF, 9. Max Moroff /SS
Atlanta Braves (9-9): 1. Ozzie Albies /2B, 2. Josh Donaldson /DH, 3. Freddie Freeman /1B, 4. Ronald Acuna Jr. /LF, 5. Nick Markakis /RF, 6. Dansby Swanson /SS, 7. Ender Inciarte /CF, 8. Johan Camargo /3B, 9. Tyler Flowers /C
It’s tough to predict the exact lineups and defensive alignments for both of these teams for different reasons. The Indians have about a half-dozen players who are interchangeable in and out of the lineup–specifically Gonzalez, Bauers, Allen, Moroff, Tyler Naquin and Hanley Ramirez–none of whom necessarily have a stranglehold on everyday playing time. Expect to see guys bounce in and out of the starting nine until that changes. There’s also the possibility that Francisco Lindor rejoins the team this weekend, which will change the top of the order.
The Braves, on the other hand, have options not usually afforded to them as they’ll play this series in an American League park. I’d expect to see Donaldson as the designated hitter at least once over the weekend since Camargo is a solid fill-in at third base. Atlanta may use three different regular starters as the DH, though, in an attempt to give guys a “half day,” so to speak.