Hard to believe, the Indians are starting their penultimate homestand of the season as Cleveland plays host to the visiting Milwaukee Brewers for the next three days at Progressive Field.
The Indians (23-14) had a productive road trip in Missouri, taking four of six from the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals to stay right in the mix atop the American League Central. Entering play on Friday ahead of the Chicago White Sox by a half game, the Tribe appears to have the playoffs in their sights at the end of the month, but now will look to improve their lot in the postseason brackets in the expanded tournament scheduled for this season due to the global pandemic.
Milwaukee (17-19) has had a very up and down season for a team expected to be a candidate for a postseason push in the National League Central this year. They split during the week against the Detroit Tigers after taking three of four over the weekend from the Pittsburgh Pirates. It left the Brewers firmly entrenched in the third spot in the division, a game behind St. Louis and four and a half in back of the first place Chicago Cubs. The Brewers have won no more than three games in a row or lost more than four straight this year. They come to Cleveland with a road record one game better than their mark at home for the season.
Burnes, 25, was a fourth round pick by the Brewers in the 2016 draft. He started the team’s second game of the season, then found himself working long relief out of the ‘pen. He was reinserted into the starting rotation on August 18 and has been impressive in three starts since. He limited Minnesota to a run in five innings in that first start back, and his last time out in his second straight start against Pittsburgh, he struck out a season-high ten batters and allowed just three hits in six shutout innings to earn his first win of the year.
The 33-year-old Carrasco got himself back on track with one of his best games of the year and certainly his best game in more than three weeks in his last start. He blanked the Cardinals over six innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six and leaving with an economical 85 pitches thrown in the team’s 2-1 extra inning win. Carrasco has worked to cut down on the free passes and kept base traffic as a whole to a minimum, but he suffered a tough no-decision as the Cleveland bats had a tough time getting going on Saturday.
Woodruff has emerged as one of the best pitchers on the staff for the Brewers. The 27-year-old is in his fourth season with Milwaukee and was the team’s Opening Day starter. He had his toughest start of the season his last time out against Pittsburgh on August 30, allowing four runs on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings to suffer his third loss of the year. He gave up a pair of homers, matching the amount that he allowed over his first 25 1/3 innings of work. He missed a few games this past week for the birth of his child.
Civale will look to end a modest two-game losing streak after coming off of his worst outing of the season. He was tagged for five runs against the Cardinals in a loss on Sunday, just the second time this season that he has failed to provide the Indians with a quality start. In addition to the season-high for runs allowed in a game, he matched a season-high with eight hits surrendered and he gave up two free passes after entering the game with just four walks through his first six outings. He is 1-1 in interleague games so far this season.
Anderson, the 32-year-old veteran left-hander, was a free agent addition in the offseason by the Brewers after many years spent on the west coast with Oakland and the Los Angeles Dodgers. After missing the first week of the season with a blister, he has built up his pitch count and is lasting deeper into outings. Not a big strikeout pitcher, he works more by controlling the zone and not giving up free base runners. He has given up 19 hits and a walk in his last 17 innings on the mound, posting a 2-0 record in those three starts with wins over Minnesota and Cincinnati and a no-decision against Pittsburgh his last time out.
Bieber suffered a tough no-decision against the Royals on Monday after the Indians bullpen coughed up the lead in his absence. He limited KC to just one hit, but walked a season-high four, in six shutout innings before the Royals scored a pair in the eighth to stake a 2-1 win. Bieber struck out nine in the contest, giving him 84 on the season in just 52 2/3 innings of work. Earlier this week, he was named the American League’s Pitcher of the Month of August after going 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA, a .169 batting average against, and an MLB-leading 57 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings of work in his six quality starts.
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Jake Elmore (UTL) – released from team’s alternate training site (9/4)
Cam Hill (RP) – optioned to team’s alternate training site (9/1)
Zach Plesac (SP) – recalled from team’s alternate training site (9/1)
Domingo Santana (OF) – outrighted to team’s alternate training site (9/3)
Phil Bickford (P) – contract purchased from team’s alternate training site (9/1)
Ray Black (P) – 60-day injured list (7/21) – right rotator cuff strain
Lorenzo Cain (CF) – restricted list (8/1) – COVID opt-out
Jedd Gyorko (3B) – bereavement list (9/1)
Shelby Miller (P) – restricted list (8/3) – COVID opt-out
Manny Pina (C) – 10-day injured list (8/28) – torn meniscus in right knee
Justin Smoak (1B) – designated for assignment (9/3)
Trey Supak (P) – optioned to team’s alternate training site (9/1)
Tyrone Taylor (CF) – recalled from team’s alternate training site (9/1)
Daniel Vogelbach (1B) – claimed off of waivers from Toronto (9/3)
Brandon Woodruff (SP) – activated from paternity list (9/3)
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the only series of the year between the Indians and the Brewers due to the setup of the shortened 2020 schedule.
The Brewers and Indians last faced each other in 2018 in a pair of two-game series. The two clubs split their matchup in May at Miller Park in Milwaukee, with the Brewers defeating Corey Kluber in a 3-2 game to move into first place before Carrasco earned a victory in a 6-2 decision the next day. The teams met again in June in a two-gamer from Progressive Field, with Kluber and Carrasco earning the series sweep in 3-2 and 3-1 finals over the first place Brewers, which went on to win the NL Central.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
Tyler Naquin saw his ten-game hitting streak and eleven-game on-base streak come to a close during the team’s road trip, but he has remained one of the top offensive weapons in the lineup as teams continue to challenge him low in the zone despite the numbers suggesting not to.
Naquin comes into the weekend set with the Brewers hitting .284 on the year with a .300 on-base percentage with six doubles, a triple, four homers, and 17 RBI to his credit. He has incredibly drawn just one walk in 70 plate appearances. He is coming off of a season-best performance on Wednesday, when he provided all of the Tribe’s offense with a three-hit game, blasting a pair of homers and driving in five in the 5-0 victory over the Royals.
Franmil Reyes is one of the leading hitters in the American League with a .336 batting average, leaving him 11 points behind Chicago’s Tim Anderson among all qualified players in the league. Reyes has reached base safely in each of his last eight games and has multi-hit games in his last three with an impressive ten-hit series against the Royals, the first Indians player to do so since 1981. Since heating up with a two-hit game against Cincinnati on August 6, Reyes has posted a .418/.476/.725 slash (1.201 OPS) in the last 24 games with seven doubles, seven homers, and 21 RBI.
Francisco Lindor is locked in at the plate. He has hit safely in nine straight and reached in 13 in a row. He had six hits in the series with the Royals, going 6-for-13 with a double, a homer, and two RBI to boost his average 17 points up to .283. In Lindor’s last 16 games, he has a .373/.425/.597 slash (1.022 OPS) with six doubles, three homers, and seven RBI.
CRUNCHING THE BREW CREW
Twenty-four-year-old second baseman Keston Hiura has shown an ability to hit for surprising pop in his second season in the Majors. After hitting 19 homers in 84 games while batting .303 in his rookie season last year, Hiura has put nine balls over the wall in 36 games for the Brewers this season. Of his 32 hits on the year, eleven have been for extra bases, including two doubles. He has provided Milwaukee with a .229/.306/.436 slash on the year and he leads the team with 21 RBI.
Christian Yelich is tied with Hiura for the team lead in homers with nine in what has been a disappointing season for the big left-handed slugger and former MVP. Through 34 games, he is hitting .205 with a .340 OBP and .484 slugging mark with five doubles and one triple to go with his home run output. He is second on the team with 17 RBI.
Milwaukee’s Mark Mathias, the former Indians prospect, has gotten off to a great start in his rookie season. Traded by Cleveland to Milwaukee as a roster casualty ahead of the 40-man additions at the end of November, Mathias got the call up by the Brewers on August 3 for a week and has been up for two weeks in his most recent recall. The utility man has filled in nicely in the outfield and has ten hits in 33 at bats (.303 average) with three doubles and four RBI.
Closer Josh Hader has put up unbelievable numbers out of the bullpen for the Brewers to open the year. He has not allowed a hit in his first 12 outings, setting a new Major League record. He has not been the same pitcher as a year ago, as his strikeouts are down and his walks are up, and he is relying more on the slider than his fastball, which is down a couple ticks on the gun.
After the completion of their three-game weekend series with the Brewers, the Indians will play host to the Royals in a four-game set from Progressive Field to conclude the team’s seven-game homestand. Following the brief stretch of home cooking, the Indians will head out for their final road trip of the year, with stops west against the Twins, Cubs, and Tigers.
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