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Series Preview: Cleveland comes to town

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays have had a frustrating start to the home stand. In five games they have scored four total runs. Fortunately they won one. The pitchers have had very good showing. The offense just hasn’t been able to put very many runs on the board.

The Cleveland Indians have lost three of four. Their only win they rallied for four runs in the ninth off Greg Holland after entering the inning down 1-0. Corey Kluber pitched a complete game gem, but was in line for the loss until the comeback.

The Matchups:

Thursday 7:10 PM: Danny Salazar vs Blake Snell
Friday 7:10 PM: Carlos Carrasco vs Jacob Faria
Saturday 6:10 PM: Mike Clevinger vs Chris Archer
Sunday 1:10 PM: Corey Kluber vs Austin Pruitt

The Indians rotation leads the American League in FIP.

The Indians 3.63 FIP leads the American League and is only behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. However their 4.13 ERA is fourth in the American League. The Rays 3.99 ERA leads the AL.

Danny Salazar has had a disappointing season. He’s spent time injured and had a couple appearances out of the bullpen. He’s only made 13 starts and thrown 75.0 innings. He has a 4.32 ERA and 3.82 FIP. He has posted a 32.8% strikeout rate and 10.3% walk rate. Left handed batters have mashed to the tune of a .284/.377/.508 and .376 wOBA. Right handed batters have only hit .196/.272/.342 and .267 wOBA. In his three starts since returning to the rotation he has only allowed three runs in 20 innings.

Carlos Carrasco has a 4.06 ERA and 3.66 FIP. He has a 26.8% strikeout rate and 6.8% walk rate. Left handed batters have found much more success with a .263/.333/.517 line and .357 wOBA. Carrasco has allowed five runs in each of his last two starts. Earlier this season the Rays put up five runs in 3.2 innings.

Mike Clevinger has a 4.00 ERA and 4.40 FIP in 74.1 innings this year. 14 of his 16 appearances have come as a starter. Left handed hitters have hit .229/.333/.468 and .340 wOBA. Right handed batters have managed a sub .300 wOBA. In his last start the Boston Red Sox scored five runs in three innings. In his last appearance he scored three runs in one inning.

Corey Kluber is one of the best pitchers in the majors. Last year he carried them throughout the playoffs when the rest of the rotation was injured. This year he has a 2.65 ERA and 2.43 FIP. He’s struck out 36.0% of batters faced and has only walked 5.5% of batters faced. In his last two starts against the Yankees and Rockies he threw complete games and allowed one run in each.

Andrew Miller is on the disabled list.

The Cleveland bullpen has been dominant. As a group they have a sub 3.00 ERA. Their 2.98 ERA lags on the Red Sox in the AL. Their 3.41 FIP trails the Red Sox and Yankees. Fortunately for our left handed bats Andrew Miller and Boone Logan are on the disabled list. Miller is eligible to return Sunday, but according to Terry Francona he will likely need a couple days more than the minimum.

Cody Allen has served as the closer. He has a 3.38 ERA and 3.36 FIP. He’s picked up 19 saves.

At the trade deadline they acquired Joe Smith from the Toronto Blue Jays. This year Smith has a 2.97 ERA and 2.22 FIP. He’s struck out a career best 34.8% of batters. His strikeout rate is more than 10% higher than he’s posted in any season of his career.

Yesterday the Indians were forced to use five relievers in a 12 inning game against the Rockies. However their bullpen is very fresh. They had two straight off days thanks to Kluber’s complete game.

Jose Ramirez is really good.

The Cleveland offense has been quite good. They have hit .260/.335./435 and put up a 104 wRC+.

If anybody has earned comparisons to Ben Zobrist it would be Jose Ramirez. Ramirez has played mostly third base this year, but has seen play as a 2B/SS/3B/LF/RF throughout his time in the majors. The switch hitter is hitting .312/.366/.542 and has a 137 wRC+ this year.

The Indians surprised everybody when they were able to sign Edwin Encarnacion in free agency. Encarnacion has hit .250/.369/.464 and has a 122 wRC+. He’s been the second best everyday bat for the Indians.

Francisco Lindor (111 wRC+), Carlos Santa (107 wRC+), and Bradley Zimmer (102 wRC+) have been positive contributors with the bat.

Last night the Indians traded for Jay Bruce from the New Yorks Mets after they had to place Michael Brantley on the disabled list. Jay Bruce has hit .256/.321/.520 and has a 120 wRC+ this season with the Mets. He has hit 29 homers and adds power to the Cleveland outfield.

The Rays offense needs to get back on track.

The Rays left handed hitters have a good opportunity in the first three games to turn things around. Sunday’s game against Kluber will be tough.

For the most part the Rays pitchers have been giving the team a chance to win games. Now they just need to come through with some victories. They are still in the race, but if they don’t pick up wins it won’t stay that way for long.