A sweep over the Minnesota Twins is a must for the Cleveland Indians
The injury bug has hit the Cleveland Indians hard so far this season, but the team has managed to find a way to win through the hardships and stay in contention. However, with another injury added to the list and a difficult month ahead in July, the Tribe will need to finish out the month of June strong and that begins this weekend against the Minnesota Twins.
The Minnesota Twins were thought to be a force in the American League Central prior to the start of the season, but instead the team finds themselves at the bottom of the division. Not only are the Twins 11 games below .500, but they are tied for the sixth worst record in baseball. This should make the series an easy for win Cleveland on paper, but the season’s history says otherwise.
So far this season the Tribe and Twins have split the six games they’ve played. Cleveland took two games in the first series before Minnesota took two in the second. Despite this being the third series between the teams, this will be the Tribe’s first trip to Target Field this year, but why is this series a must sweep?
Well as we’ve previously said, the month of July will be very difficult for the Cleveland Indians. They will play 19 games against the top five teams in the American League, including seven against both the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays. Majority of that schedule will also be played without any of the team’s three best starters.
Aaron Civale is expected to be out 4-5 weeks, which puts his return after those 19 games. Shane Bieber is shutdown for two weeks and will be reevaluated then, which will most likely mean with rehab he’ll be out for most of the time as well. As for Zach Plesac, he will hopefully be the first to return, but since he’s yet to start a rehab assignment that could also take a week or more and a week from today starts the first series against Houston.
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Luckily, there’s a bit of good news. The Cleveland Indians will finish out the month of June with seven games against very beatable opponents with four against the Twins followed by three against the Detroit Tigers. The hope is that those seven games allow the team time to find at least a couple steady arms to weather the storm in July or at least keep it from becoming a hurricane that takes out the whole season.
The asterisk to all that is the fact that the club hasn’t exactly been consistent against bad teams this month and the sample size is pretty significant. Of the 19 games played this month the Tribe have played a combined 10 games against two of baseball’s three worst teams, being the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. In those 10 games, the team is only 6-4 and that includes a four-game sweep at home over the Orioles.
For those keep track at home, that means Cleveland lost a series on the road to both Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the month of June. They simply can’t do that against the Twins.
Now despite that, the Cleveland Indians have been able to stay nine games above .500 to this point. However, given the state of July’s schedule paired with the condition of the starting pitching, a nine-game cushion might not be enough. If the team wants to stay afloat, that means they need to at least win the two series against Minnesota and Detroit to finish out the month. A sweep or two would be even better.
As of right now, the Tribe are set to pitch J.C. Mejia on Thursday, Cal Quantrill on Friday, Sam Hentges on Saturday and Eli Morgan on Sunday. As of now, that’s the starting rotation for Cleveland and yes there’s only four. The team has yet to officially place Civale on the injured list so another move could be coming, but as it currently stands this is it.
The Minnesota Twins are a team that the Cleveland Indians should beat, even with the current state of the starting rotation. If the Tribe want to create a cushion for the month of July, this is the series to do it. They must win at least three games this series if not all four.