The Cubs are facing the Indians at a low point for Cleveland’s ballclub. They’ve lost six straight and 11 of 16 and have dropped to third place in the AL Central, though they still hold the No. 8 seed in the AL playoff structure entering Tuesday’s action as a wild card.
For more on the Indians, here’s Matt Lyons, managing editor of our SB Nation Indians site Let’s Go Tribe:
The Indians are currently at their lowest point since July 2015. That was the last time they lost six games in a row, and even then they were a plucky up-and-coming team with no expectations and nothing to lose. Fast forward to 2020 and they are supposed to be a World Series contender with one of the best rotations in baseball, a star-studded infield, and a pretty good bullpen.
Even with an injured thumb, José Ramírez has continued to be the Tribe’s best hitter, along with the surprising free-agent pickup César Hernández. But for some reason, Mike Freeman keeps getting playing time, as does Delino DeShields Jr., instead of any prospect waiting to get a shot in Eastlake. It quite literally cannot get worse than it is, yet the Indians seem stuck on their course of plugging in whatever they can find laying around the clubhouse and hoping it works.
The long-term effects of trading Mike Clevinger might end up in Cleveland’s favor (they got a potential Francisco Lindor replacement in Gabriel Arias and some other nice prospects), but so far the major league pieces they acquired are not living up to Clevinger’s impact. Josh Naylor has been bad in the outfield and at the plate and Cal Quantrill isn’t much better out of the ‘pen.
At this point, I don’t know what the Cubs will see over the next two games. The Indians can’t possibly be this bad forever, but they easily could for another few days.
While the Cubs swept the Indians in Cleveland last month, the Tribe is 10-3 against the other four NL Central teams this year.
Tuesday: Yu Darvish, RHP (7-2, 1.77 ERA, 0.875 WHIP, 2.25 FIP) vs. Carlos Carrasco, RHP (2-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 3.71 FIP)
Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (2-2, 5.05 ERA, 1.338 WHIP, 5.10 FIP) vs. Aaron Civale, RHP (3-5, 3.88 ERA, 1.155 WHIP, 3.40 FIP)
This is a tough one. As I noted above, the Cubs swept two games from the Tribe in Cleveland last month. On the other hand, the Indians have a better road record (14-10) than home record (12-11). The Indians come into this series riding that six-game losing streak and are 9-12 against teams with records over .500. The Cubs also don’t have to face Indians ace Shane Bieber.
I’d love to see another sweep, but at this point I’d be happy with a split.
The Cubs have Thursday off, then host the Minnesota Twins in a three-game series beginning Friday night at Wrigley Field, the final regular-season games at Wrigley for 2020.
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