Cleveland Indians: NL matchup presents more issues for inconsistent Tribe

Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Indians, Shane Bieber
Starting pitcher Shane Bieber #57 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

NL matchup presents more issues for inconsistent Cleveland Indians

After losing two-of-three to the worst team in baseball, the Cleveland Indians will finish out their road trip with two games against the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals. Being in St. Louis, the Tribe will be without a designated hitter for a couple games. For a team that has already had their fair share of struggles over the last couple weeks, the shake-up to the lineup will be just another thing to add for this upcoming series.

Since Franmil Reyes hit the injured list, Cleveland has used the DH spot has a relief role. Owen Miller came up to fill the spot on the roster and his position versatility has allowed the team to play around with the DH spot. Miller has played pretty much every infield position, allowing Cesar Hernandez and Jose Ramirez, among others, to get a sort of half-day off while being the DH for the day.

While it’s only two games, that option will now be off the table against the Cardinals. The solution, however, could be simple. With Miller’s struggles in Cleveland, he is most likely the odd man out in this situation. Unfortunately, that’s just one barrier of what could be many for the Tribe throughout the series.

It might be too early in the season for a make-or-break series, especially one that is against a National League team, but two more losses could really hurt Cleveland. With the recent skid against the Orioles, the Tribe are now four games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. Now, the White Sox are facing the Toronto Blue Jays, which will be tough matchups, meaning two wins for Cleveland over St. Louis could really draw the race back to being close.

For the Tribe, they will be able to hopefully start the series well against the Cardinals with ace Shane Bieber on the bump. While we know that Bieber is one of the best pitchers in the game, we now get to see what he can do at the dish.

Over the duration of his career, Bieber is just 1-for-12 at the plate with a walk, but his one hit was a double. The downside is that it came in 2018. The upside, is that it was against the Cardinals in St. Louis, so maybe the venue will reignite his bat.

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The other start against St. Louis is set to be J.C. Mejia, his first time pitching against an NL team. For Mejia, this will be his fifth major league appearance and second start. He’s yet to go longer than three innings or throw more than 50 pitches, but let’s just say the opposition has yet to touch home plate when he’s been on the mound.

Having Bieber and Mejia as the two starters should give the Tribe an advantage in terms of pitching, but will provide a sort of crutch in the lineup while complicating the job of Terry Francona for deciding when to make the change on the mound or in the batter’s box.

This is where having a large bullpen could actually come in handy a bit, but on the flip side a small bench makes it harder. Making a change on the mound will be easier with so many arms in the pen, but a change at the plate could run the bench thin quickly.

As for the opposition, the St. Louis Cardinals have been struggling as well riding a five-game losing streak into the series. The first pitcher they’ll send to the mound doesn’t help the cause either. Carlos Martinez will be handed the ball for the first time since allowing 10 runs in 0.2 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

For the second game, the Cardinals will turn to veteran Adam Wainwright who has had an up-and-down season that has included two scoreless starts of eight innings or more, but also two starts that didn’t last longer than four innings and saw the other team score six runs.

There’s a real opportunity for the Cleveland Indians to leave St. Louis with two wins. However, if this past weekend showed us anything it’s that the Tribe are certainly inconsistent. Just because they are supposed to win doesn’t mean they will. On paper, Cleveland has a really good shot in St. Louis, but they need to prove it on the field.

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