The Indians will return to their one-time home of Miller Park (three games in 2007) this week for a two-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. It will mark the first time the two clubs have met since 2015 and just the seventh time since the Brewers moved from the American League Central Division to the National League Central, turning the once-time rivalry into a sporadic interleague series.
The Indians (17-17) started their brief five-game road trip on the worst note, getting swept in the New York by the Yankees. To their credit, the Yankees have dismantled a handful of playoff caliber teams during their 14-1 tear through the American League in the last several weeks, as they have also beaten up on the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays in that stretch. Cleveland found some ways to lose over the weekend, as their bullpen has been fully exploited for the world to see. The offense has contributed, in bunches, of late but could not create any lead big enough that the Yankees could not prevail, especially with a bullpen now ranked second-to-last in the AL in ERA (5.51) and strikeouts (96) and third-to-last in holds (10).
The Brewers (20-15) have started well despite suffering a similar fate to the Indians – the inconsistent offense. Milwaukee’s bats have produced the second-to-worst scoring punch in the National League this season and the club owns the third-worst on-base percentage and OPS in the league. They have taken advantage of chances to try to manufacture some runs, as they have stolen the third-most bases in all of baseball with 25 in 33 attempts. Brewers’ pitching has been better, ranked third in the league with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, but the relief staff has blown eight saves, second-most in the senior circuit. Despite that, the bullpen is still good for the second-best ERA (2.59) and WHIP (1.14) in the league. The Brewers enter the series a game in back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Tuesday, May 8, 7:40 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (5-1, 2.41 ERA) vs. LHP Wade Miley (1-0, 1.50)
Kluber has won five straight games and has opened his 2018 season with seven straight quality starts. He allowed a season-high three homers in his last game against Texas on Wednesday, but was paced to a big lead in his seven innings of work. He has averaged more than seven and one-third innings of work per outing this season and is averaging 9.1 strikeouts and 1.5 walks per nine innings with a 0.78 WHIP. He has never faced Milwaukee.
The 31-year-old southpaw Miley was sharp in his first outing of the year last week after being called up from the minors after sustaining a groin injury late in camp. He held the Cincinnati Reds to a run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts in six innings for the win. He spent parts of the last two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, with previous time in Seattle, Boston, and Arizona (where he was an All-Star in 2012). He has faced the Indians five times in his career, posting a 1-3 record with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP in 25 1/3 innings. He faced Cleveland last year twice while pitching for the Orioles, taking a pair of losses while allowing eight runs in ten and two-thirds innings.
Wednesday, May 9, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.95) vs. RHP Junior Guerra (2-2, 2.33)
A pair of Venezuelan right-handers will square off on Wednesday afternoon as Carrasco takes on Guerra. The 31-year-old Carrasco has bookended four impressive quality starts in April with three outings totaling 16 runs allowed, including his March 31 win over Seattle and his last two appearances. He gave the Indians five and a third innings of work against Toronto in a no-decision last Thursday in game one of the day’s doubleheader, but he was charged with six runs on nine hits in the process. Carrasco’s eighth start of 2018 will be his first career outing against the Brewers.
Guerra, 33, was a late bloomer, making his big league debut in 2015 at the age of 30. He has spent the last three seasons with the Brewers, working primarily from their starting rotation. His most recent start was his worst of the year, as he took his second straight loss after allowing five runs on six hits in five innings to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had previously allowed just three runs (two earned) over the first month of the season (four starts, 22 innings of work). Despite pitching briefly for the Chicago White Sox in his debut season of 2015, he has never faced the Indians.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Dish455, Fox Sports Wisconsin (all); MLB Network (out-of-market, 5/9)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (Cleveland); WTMJ 620 (Milwaukee)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Matt Belisle (RP) – released after refusing outright to Triple-A Columbus (5/8)
Jeff Beliveau (RP) – accepted outright to Triple-A Columbus (5/7)
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (4/8) – right calf strain
Oliver Drake (RP) – added to 25-man and 40-man rosters (5/8)
Ryan Merritt (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Andrew Miller (RP) – placed on 10-day disabled list (4/26) – left hamstring strain
Alexi Ogando (P) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (5/8)
Danny Salazar (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis
Zach Davies (SP) – 10-day disabled list (4/30) – right rotator cuff inflammation
Nick Franklin (UTL) – contract purchased from Double-A Biloxi (5/8)
Corey Knebel (CL) – 10-day disabled list (4/6) – left hamstring strain; on rehab assignment
Boone Logan (RP) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – mild left triceps strain; on rehab assignment
Jimmy Nelson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – recovery from September 2017 right shoulder surgery
Eric Sogard (UTL) – optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs (5/8)
Eric Thames (1B) – 10-day disabled list (4/25) – recovery from left thumb UCL surgery
Stephen Vogt (C) – 60-day disabled list (3/29) – right shoulder strain; pulled from rehab assignment
Raise your hand if you had Milwaukee’s leading hitter (with more than two plate appearances) after 35 games as Jesus Aguilar, former Indians first base prospect.
Unable to crack through the Indians lineup for several years, he got a fresh start in Milwaukee last spring after being designated for assignment by Cleveland and claimed on waivers. He got a heavy dose of work in the Brewers lineup last season, slashing .265/.331/.505 in 133 games with 15 doubles, 16 homers, and 52 RBI. With the injury to Thames, he will get another long look at first and, so far, it has paid off. Through 60 at bats, he has a .350/.406/.517 line at the plate with four doubles, two homers, and ten RBI.
When you think Brewers, you generally think Ryan Braun. This season, the numbers have not quite been what fans in Milwaukee have been accustomed to throughout his 12-year career. In 32 games, he has hit .243 with a .284 on-base percentage, hitting seven doubles and five homers while driving in a team-high 19 runs.
Travis Shaw, son of former Indians reliever Jeff Shaw and a product of Kent State University, is stuck in a 2-for-31 hole at the plate. The fourth-year man had a breakout season a year ago, hitting 34 doubles and 31 homers while driving in 101 runs after a lopsided offseason trade from Boston that sent him with three others for reliever Tyler Thornburg following the 2016 season. He is second to Thames in homers and second to Braun in RBI on the Brewers roster, but is hitting just .230 for the season after his slump.
The Brewers’ big offseason included adding a pair of productive outfielders in Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. Cain, returning to Milwaukee after many years in Kansas City, is hitting .267 with a .381 OBP, hitting seven doubles, four homers, ten RBI, and stealing eight bases in nine attempts. Yelich has missed some time, but is hitting .281 on the year with four doubles, a triple, three homers, and eleven RBI.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
Francisco Lindor’s powerful week at the plate was recognized on Monday when he was named the American League’s Player of the Week for the first time in his four-year big league career.
Lindor’s healthy week at the plate including a .425/.439/.825 slash with four homers and ten RBI. He is the first Tribe player to win the weekly award since Kluber did so for the period of September 17 to 23 last season. The last position player to do so was not much earlier, as Jose Ramirez was honored for his efforts from September 3 to 9.
The two-time All-Star shortstop has climbed up the Indians offensive leaderboards for the season, as he is now hitting .283 with a .350 on-base percentage for the year. He is the team leader in doubles with ten and is second to Edwin Encarnacion and Ramirez in homers with eight. His 20 RBI are tied with Encarnacion and trail only Ramirez and Yonder Alonso with 21.
The Indians do have some players with experience against Miley. Encarnacion is 7-for-16 (.438) with two doubles, three homers, and six RBI while also drawing seven walks (.609 OBP). Lindor is 4-for-9 (.444) with two doubles, three walks, and an RBI. Yan Gomes is 3-for-5 (.600) with three singles and three RBI.
Encarnacion has looked like April is behind him through the first week of May. In his last six games, he is hitting .346 with a double, three homers, and a team-leading ten RBI. Ramirez has also perked up at the plate, hitting four doubles and two homers while driving in five for a .360 average, a .467 OBP, and a .760 slugging mark in the last week.
With the Tribe in Milwaukee for a rare series, this series’ trivia will have a strong Brewers theme. Answers to follow Tuesday night’s game.
The Indians’ all-time saves leader racked up 139 in 156 chances during his time with the Indians. He made his second career All-Star appearance while with the Indians in 2005 and led the league in saves with 45. Prior to coming to Cleveland, however, he pitched for the Yankees and Brewers and was an All-Star reliever for Milwaukee in 2000, just weeks before he was acquired by the Tribe.
Who am I?
After spending his first five big league seasons in Milwaukee with the Brewers, this second baseman played a season in Colorado before joining the Indians. He spent parts of three years in town and was selected as an All-Star while with Cleveland in 2004. He would be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals ahead of the 2006 trade deadline for infielder Hector Luna.
Who am I?
This first baseman, outfielder, and designated hitter had been tied to the Cleveland Indians organization long before he signed with the club in 1988. He spent part of that season with the Indians and the other part in Colorado Springs with the Sky Sox before spending the final two seasons of his ten-year Major League career with the Brewers in 1989 and 1990. Since the end of his playing days, he has worked in TV and done front office work in addition to spending some successful time back in Major League dugouts.
Who am I?
The Indians will take their second day off in a four-day span on Thursday before a brief home set with the Kansas City Royals this weekend. They will then return to the road for eight games in Detroit, Houston, and Chicago (with the Cubs).
The Brewers will get back to work right away, jumping over to Denver to start a four-game series with the Rockies to kick off a ten-game road trip.
Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images