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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Cleveland Indians

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The Astros (48-33, 1st in AL West) head back out on the road, starting with four against the Indians (42-35, 2nd in AL Central)

Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

Quick Notes

While the Indians took a bit of a step back to finish 3rd in the Central during 2020’s shortened season, they have continued to remain a postseason contender. The White Sox may have seemingly surpassed them as the team to beat in the Central, but Cleveland isn’t exactly rolling over, remaining within striking distance of first place Chicago.

However, the Tribe has mostly been treading water in June, going 13-11 and losing at least one series to each of the Orioles, Pirates, Twins, and Tigers. They come into this matchup on the heels of losing both games of a doubleheader against Detroit just yesterday.

Last 10 Games: 4-6 Record, 3 Series Lost, 1 Series Split, -11 Run Differential

W/L Splits: 21-15 at home, 21-20 on the road, 14-15 against teams over .500


Offense

The Indians offense, slashing a collective .228/.296/.396 has not really bringing home the bacon this season. Cleveland sits in the bottom half of the league in all three of those stats. That .296 OBP is 29th in the league, so there needs to be some significant improvement if they expect to improve in the standings or go deep into October.

Their best offensive category is probably strikeouts, where they only second to Houston for least among teams with 636. However, they are terrible at taking walks, clocking in at dead last in the league with 215. It doesn’t really get much better after that so far as the bats are concerned.

Notable players:

  • Jose Ramirez (.265/.346/.537) has easily been Cleveland’s best player this season. He leads the team in almost every offensive stat, including runs (53), hits (71), doubles (17), homers 18), walks (31), and RBI (50). He’s also played more games than anyone else on the team. Unfortunately, Ramirez took a foul ball to the face in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader. He went to the hospital for evaluation last night, but there’s been no word on his status since then that I can find.
  • Bobby Bradley (.254/.321/.634) has had a June to remember after being called up at the beginning of the month. Not only is he getting on base at a healthy clip, but his power has been undeniable as he has belted 8 homers and 3 doubles across 21 games.

Pitching

The Indians pitching staff has been more average then elite when you look at them as a complete unit. They rank in the middle 10 of the league when it comes to the typical stats such as ERA (4.33), WHIP (1.30), and BAA (.235). Of course, it doesn’t really help that the Indians have Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac all on the IL, which has certainly brought the team’s pitching stats down.

The reliever corps has been better than the starters when it comes to collective stats. While starters are more average than good, the relievers have crept up into the top ten when it comes to certain stats. On a side note, the Indians did pick up Old Friend Brad Peacock on a minor league deal recently, so I’ll count that as a point in their favor just because I like Brad.

Notable Relievers:

  • James Karinchak (RHP, 2.60 ERA, 34.2 IP, 59 K’s) seems to be the Indians’ closer though he’s not listed as such on the depth chart. He’s picked up 9 saves and is the most recent reliver to convert one. Karinchak probably isn’t the Indians’ best reliever by stats, but he’s easily in the top 3.
  • Emmanuel Clase (RHP, 1.10 ERA, 32.2 IP, 36 K’s) currently owns the most saves on the team at 11, and is clearly one of the more trusted arms in the pen. He did get slapped for 3 runs in one of yesterday’s games, which were the only runs he surrendered in all of June. It was also the first time he had allowed a baserunner since June 8th.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Framber Valdez (LHP, 4-1, 2.11 ERA, 35 K’s) vs J.C. Mejia (RHP, 1-2, 4.94 ERA, 22 K’s)

Mejia gets the ball in Game 1 tonight and is hoping to turn the page on what has been a pretty awful June for him after being slotted into the rotation to start the month. During his time as a starter, Mejia has given up 13 earned runs in 18.2 innings. His last start was a huge improvement though, giving up just 1 run in 6 IP.

Game 2: Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 5-1, 2.94 ERA, 73 K’s) vs Sam Hentges (LHP, 1-2, 7.32 ERA, 38 K’s)

Hentges has swung back and forth between reliever and starter this season, and has been victimized by some truly putrid games in that time. The most recent one came in his last start, where he vomited up 6 runs in 3.1 innings. It was the fourth time in 13 appearances this season that he’s given up at least 4 runs, and not all of those came in starts.

Game 3: Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 2-3, 4.08 ERA, 38 K’s) vs Eli Morgan (RHP, 1-2, 9.37 ERA, 19 K’s)

This will be Eli Morgan’s 4th start of his career and it has been a struggle for the young right hander. Called up in May to paper over some of the holes in Cleveland’s rotation, Morgan has surrendered 17 runs in just 16.1 innings of work this season, including 4 in each of his last two starts. He did get his first career W in his last start though, so there’s that.

Game 4: Zack Greinke (RHP, 8-2, 3.65 ERA, 74 K’s) vs TBD

Cleveland has not announced the starter for this game. Cal Quanitrill and Logan Allen both made starts in yesterday’s doubleheader, but they would be going on short rest if either of them started this game, so it’s unclear who will get the nod. Bullpen day or a AAA callup are both options as well.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, July 1st @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Indians - WTAM 1100, WMMS 100.7
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Indians - Bally Sports Great Lakes

Game 2: Friday, July 2nd @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Indians - WTAM 1100, WMMS 100.7, Indians Radio Network / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Indians - SportsTime Ohio / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Saturday, July 3rd @ 6:15 pm CDT
Listen: Indians - WTAM 1100, WMMS 100.7, Indians Radio Network / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: FOX

Game 4: Sunday, July 4th @ 12:10 pm CDT
Listen: Indians - WTAM 1100, WMMS 100.7, Indians Radio Network / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Indians - SportsTime Ohio / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (11 votes)
  • 37%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (25 votes)
  • 27%
    Series Split 2-2
    (18 votes)
  • 7%
    Indians Win 3-1
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    Indians Sweep 4-0
    (7 votes)
66 votes total Vote Now