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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Indians series preview

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The Cubs resume their season after a weekend series in St. Louis was postponed due to COVID-19.

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians have played 17 games so far this season, so they’re one of the teams not affected by the various pandemic postponements.

For more on the Indians, here’s Matt Lyons, managing editor of our SB Nation Indians site Let’s Go Tribe:

Do you like offense? Because you’re not going to see much of it this week. Whether that means the Indians’ pitching staff stays at an elite level or the offense continues to not hit, there’s a decent chance someone is going to get shut out over the next two days.

Tuesday’s matchup would have involved Mike Clevinger, but he violated team safety protocols, lied about it, and will be spending some time in the shame box. Adam Plutko is a pretty unremarkable pitcher but a solid bottom-of-the-order guy. And of course, on Wednesday you’ll get to see the elder statesman of the Indians, Carlos Carrasco, who looks as good as ever.

Offensively, as I said, it’s going to be a slog on this side of the diamond. Francisco Lindor just can’t get it going this season, and unfortunately, Carlos Santana can’t walk five runs in a night, as much as he’s tried this season. The one saving grace might be that Franmil Reyes has started to remember what a baseball looks like (and how to kill it), and José Ramírez looks incredible.

Keep an eye out for the gangling monster in center field known as Bradley Zimmer if he gets any playing time this series. He’s fast as all heck and I still hold out hope he can be something for the Indians. He’s got a reworked swing that has him more compact and quicker to the ball. So far it hasn’t amounted for much but I’m still not giving up on him.

Fun fact

The Cubs and Indians have matched up once in the regular season since the 2016 World Series, a pair of two-game sets in April and May 2018. The Tribe took three of the four games. Since those were a month apart, Trevor Bauer, now with the Reds, wound up the winning pitcher twice and Jon Lester the losing pitcher twice. Current Cub minor-league signee Cody Allen saved two of the three Cleveland wins.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Jon Lester, LHP (1-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.545 WHIP, 4.12 FIP) vs. Adam Plutko, RHP (1-0, 2.57 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 5.31 FIP)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (2-1, 3.54 ERA, 0.934 WHIP, 2.43 FIP) vs. Carlos Carrasco, RHP (2-1, 2.50 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 3.81 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 6:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, FS1 (no blackouts)

Wednesday: 5:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Prediction

As noted by Matt Lyons, Indians pitching has been excellent. They lead MLB with a 1.99 ERA, have allowed just 33 runs in 16 games and haven’t given up more than four runs in any of those games.

On the other hand, their offense ranks 22nd in MLB with 54 runs and all of the teams behind them have played fewer games, in some cases (Cardinals, Phillies, Marlins) many fewer games. They’ve scored more than four runs only four times and have already been shut out three times. The Cubs have scored 11 more runs than the Indians in three fewer games.

In my view, the pitching matchups should make this series even. I’ll be happy if the Cubs can come home with a split.

Up next

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field for a four-game series against the Brewers beginning Thursday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Indians?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    2
    (85 votes)
  • 41%
    1
    (65 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (8 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now