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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Indians series preview

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The Cubs split a pair with the Indians last month in Cleveland.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

These two teams split a pair of games in Cleveland last month. The Indians are in first place in the A.L. Central despite being a game under .500.

For an update on the Indians, I asked Matt Lyons, managing editor of our SB Nation Indians site Let’s Go Tribe, to fill us in on what’s been going on with his team over the last month or so.

The 2018 Indians are not what you would call a great team. Unfortunately, they’re not a terrible team either; at least if they were it might be fun to watch the trainwreck. No, the Indians have taken the criminal approach to being dead set in the middle between great and awful, the dreaded snooze zone. The offense can go off for 10 runs in a night, only to have the bullpen blow a seven-run lead. Or the offense can go silent for a week while the entire pitching staff morphs into Corey Kluber clones. They can’t seem to get everything working at once, and it’s made for one boring, almost unwatchable team.

There are signs of hope, though, mainly in the form of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. They’re two of the games brightest young stars and might be on pace for their best seasons ever as a duo.

While there’s nothing the Indians can do to avoid the Cubs facing their awful bullpen, they did remove the worst piece of the starting rotation in Josh Tomlin, bumping him to the ‘pen and they’re planning to call up Adam Plutko to face Chicago on Wednesday. Plutko is a pretty similar pitcher to Tomlin in that he throws a lot of strikes and gives up a lot of fly balls, but he just doesn’t get hit quite as hard. He also has four pitches that are at least somewhat average.

But, hey, at least this series gives Indians fans a chance to relive the 2016 World Series which doesn’t at all have any painful memories attached to it. Hooray!

Funny thing, that. I have only happy memories of the 2016 World Series.

Fun fact

Despite the Indians’ losing overall record (22-23), they have the third-best home record in the American League (13-9). Only the Red Sox and Yankees are better in their home parks among A.L. teams so far this year. Sadly for the Tribe, this series is on the road.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Tyler Chatwood, RHP (3-3, 3.14 ERA, 1.488 WHIP, 4.10 FIP) vs. Trevor Bauer, RHP (3-3, 2.59 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 2.81 FIP)

Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (4-1, 2.52 ERA, 1.220 WHIP, 4.39 FIP) vs. Adam Plutko, RHP (1-0, 3.68 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 6.83 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, WGN, ESPN (no blackouts)

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Cleveland markets)

Prediction

The Indians have been struggling, especially on the road where they’re 9-14 and have lost eight of their last 11, and they’re starting a rookie pitcher in one of these games. I’ll go out on a limb and say the Cubs will take both of these games.

Up next

The Cubs have another off day Thursday, then host the San Francisco Giants in a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Indians?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    2
    (146 votes)
  • 43%
    1
    (122 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (13 votes)
281 votes total Vote Now