RHP Toussaint (ATL) vs. RHP Kluber (CLE)
Atlanta’s Touki Toussaint only has one 2019 start under his belt, but it was an impressive one. He tossed six scoreless innings against the Mets on April 13, allowing four hits, two walks, and striking out seven. The Indians have struggled early with strikeouts, so Toussaint will be looking to exploit that on Friday night.
We’ve seen two versions of Corey Kluber through his first four starts, and we hope to see the dominant one on Friday. Kluber’s 6.16 ERA is inflated by his last start, in which he gave up six earned runs in 2.2 innings. That start was against the Royals, who don’t pose as formidable an offensive threat as the Braves do. Kluber will need to do what he does best: get ahead in counts, paint the corners, and keep the dangerous Atlanta lineup off balance. As is usually the case, we’ll know pretty early in the first inning if he’s on or not.
RHP Teheran (ATL) vs. RHP Bauer (CLE)
Julio Teheran has been decent to start the season, with only one truly undesirable outing to his credit, but zero dominant performances. He’s struck out 23 hitters over 21 innings and carries an ERA of 4.71 and WHIP of 1.48 into the second game of the weekend series.
More than any pitcher in Cleveland’s rotation, we generally know what to expect from Trevor Bauer on a regular basis. He’s going to go deep into games, rack up high strikeout totals, and give the team a chance to win. He’s had one suspect start and three exceptional outings, and after giving up one earned run to Seattle earlier in the week, he’s up to the task of shutting down Atlanta’s hitters.
LHP Fried (ATL) vs. RHP Bieber (CLE)
Max Fried has quietly been one of the more impressive pitchers in baseball early on, having allowed just two earned runs across 18 innings in his three starts. He doesn’t punch guys out regularly (12 strikeouts total), but he’s done a fantastic job limiting base runners nonetheless. Expect to see a shuffled lineup for the Indians on Sunday night when they face the southpaw.
Cleveland’s representative in this showdown between underrated pitchers is Shane Bieber, who has allowed three earned runs over 19 innings in his three starts. His WHIP sits at 0.81, and he’s fanned, 22 hitters. This third and final game of the series will be nationally televised, so both Bieber and Fried have an opportunity to get some of the recognition they deserve.