Thursday Aug. 20, 7:05 p.m. EST
Probable Starters: Shane Bieber (4-0, 1.30 ERA) vs Trevor Williams (1-3, 3.98 ERA)
Game three will feature the sixth start of the year for Cleveland ace Shane Bieber.
The numbers for Bieber so far this season are borderline insane. He currently leads is tied for the MLB lead with four wins and leads the game in both Strikeouts (54), and innings pitched (34.2).
Thursday, he’ll be handed the gift of facing the second-worst hitting team in MLB in the Pirates.
One thing the Pirates do well, is they have limiting strikeouts as an offense. However, beyond that, they are bottom feeders across MLB. What’s even better for Bieber is no current Pirate has faced him at the big league level.
Thus, expect Bieber to continue to improve his chances at a 2020 Cy Young Award.
On the flip side, the well-known Trevor Williams will take the ball for the Pirates. His win, loss ratio isn’t impressive, but he has put Pittsburgh in positions to win his games. His last start was against the Twins when he went seven strong innings, allowed one run, and struck out seven against one of baseball’s best lineups.
He made some adjustments towards the end of 2019 and had a nine start stretch where his ERA was 0.66. Williams is one of the Pirates’ trade pieces, should they look to add more prospects to their organization.
This is surely the best pitching matchup of the series on paper. The Pirates will be counting on Williams to have a quality start after what could be two semi-bullpen games to open the series.
The Indians won’t need many runs to support Bieber, but runs against Williams could be challenging to score if Williams is able to settle in to a groove.
Williams is historically a better home performer than road and this year lefties are hitting just .200 against him, which is not ideal for Cleveland.
The Indians had a similar dilemma against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks who dominates lefties and still ran a mostly left-handed lineup and paid the price for it. Thus, it will be interesting to see if Francona plugs in any right-handed bench bats for a spot start.