Tuesday, 7:10 PM EST – RHP Shane Bieber vs. LHP Steven Matz
Shane Bieber decided to keep the Tribe bullpen honest by only going six innings in his last start against Boston. In his defense, he struck out seven Red Sox hitters along the way and his only two runs allowed came on solo homers.
Jokes aside, Bieber has been Terry Francona’s rock in the rotation this season. Without him, we’re singing a morose late-summer tune about what could have been.
Steven Matz presents a tough left-handed matchup for the Indians in the series opener. He leans on his ability to induce ground balls, and he is effective with them against both lefties and righties.
Matz is also evidently more comfortable at Citi Field than he is anywhere else; his 2.14 home ERA is over four full runs lower than his 6.28 road mark.
If the Indians are going to take advantage of their 106 wRC+ against southpaws since June 1, it could come early in the game: Matz has trouble settling in from the outset, owning a 5.00 ERA his first time through opposing lineups.
Wednesday, 7:10 PM EST – RHP Adam Plutko vs. RHP Marcus Stroman
Adam Plutko continues to defy the plethora of underlying numbers that suggest he should have an ERA somewhere near 12. Despite striking out next to nobody and giving up tons of fly balls, he keeps the Indians in games and gives the offense a chance to win.
It’s not flashy, and it’s not always going to work, but Plutko does what is asked of him. I’m curious (and terrified) to see how Peter Alonso’s 32.3% HR/FB rate (second-highest in MLB) fares in this matchup.
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The Indians will get another frustrating ground ball pitcher in Wednesday’s contest. Marcus Stroman’s 54.8% grounder rate trails only Dakota Hudson among qualified starters. The Indians have seen the former Blue Jay plenty throughout his career, though, so they’re prepared for his stuff and his style.
Stroman has made three starts since coming over to the Mets, and it hasn’t gone very well. He owns a 5.17 ERA, which is identical to his disconcerting BB/9 rate. Both he and the Indians will look to exploit their familiarity with one another en route to winning this matchup.
Thursday, 7:10 PM EST – RHP Aaron Civale vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard
Closing out the series for Cleveland will be Aaron Civale, a rookie coming off a start in which he gave up a career-high two earned runs in six innings.
Civale has stood tall in four outings for the Indians, giving fits to tough lineups like the Twins and Yankees along the way. Unlike Plutko, he strikes out enough hitters to keep himself off the ropes, and he doesn’t allow nearly the same frequency of fly balls.
The Tribe will evade Jacob deGrom in this series, but they’re getting the next-worst thing in the form of Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard has authored seven straight quality starts since the All-Star break, sporting a 2.05 ERA, a 56.2% ground ball rate, and a 25.9% strikeout rate in this span.
He rarely issues walks, and when he doesn’t strike opposing hitters out, he routinely induces weak contact. The Indians would be well-served to take a grind-it-out approach against Syndergaard, working his pitch count early and trying to get to a Mets bullpen that is tied for the third-highest ERA in baseball.