Cleveland has finally begun to separate themselves from the rest of the miserable American League Central. They’re nine games up on the Twins, who are now ten games under .500. Cleveland still owns the worst record of any division leader, but there isn’t any team coming for them, so they can probably coast to the postseason.
Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:
- Monday, July 2 — 7:15 PM CDT — Corey Kluber versus Jakob Junis
- Tuesday, July 3 — 7:15 PM CDT — Shane Bieber versus Danny Duffy (L)
- Wednesday, July 4 — 7:15 PM CDT — Tyler Bauer versus Ian Kennedy
Cleveland at Kansas City pitching matchups
|Danny Duffy (L)||17||94.2||83||19.8||46||11.0||4.94||5.35||5.19||4.93||-0.1||0.5|
At this point, breaking down Kluber and Bauer is sort of pointless. They’re known quantities. Bauer is mid-breakout, but the breakout always seemed to be more of a question of when not if it would happen.
Moving on to Shane Bieber, coming into this season, he was one of those fringe top 100 type of prospects. A fourth-round pick out of UC - Santa Barbara in 2016, he moved through three levels in 2017, impressive at each level, but most jawdropping in his complete aversion to walking opposing hitters. Of course, he was in his age-22 season last year, so dominating two levels of A-ball was nice, but not entirely unexpected. His 54.1 innings of 2.18 FIP, 20.1 K-BB% baseball were hardly to be scoffed at, but his dominance wasn’t quite enough to propel him up prospect ranking lists, coming in as a top-100 prospect only on John Sickels’s list. That is until this season, where he continued his command-fueled brilliance. Another 76.2 brilliant innings split between AA and AAA have been enough to punch his ticket to the big-league rotation and move him up prospect lists (he debuted on FanGraphs’s list after it was updated with members of this new draft class, putting him at 64th on The BOARD, and he was 59th on Baseball America’s list that dropped today).
Since he’s only pitched 24.1 innings in the majors, let’s focus on what he throws, but not how often he does it, since we’re dealing with a volatile sample here. At present, he looks to be throwing a four-seamer averaging 93.0 MPH. The pitch was only viewed as a 50-grade pitch coming into the season per FanGraphs (we’ll be defaulting there for the rest of this preview). His plus offering was in the form of his curve, which they slapped a 55-present/60-future grade on. His slider (which he throws roughly as often as his slider) and change were both viewed as 45s with 50-futures put on them. The key to his success, not surprisingly, was his command, which they gave a 55/70 to—which was the second-best command grade they gave to anyone in the minors. He’s looked good in his brief major-league career. He probably won’t stop looking good against the 2018 Royals.
Cleveland position players
|José Ramírez (S)||3B||363||24||58||55||14||.295||.399||.607||.419||169||5.5||5.5|
|Francisco Lindor (S)||SS||381||21||70||48||10||.296||.372||.564||.396||153||4.8||4.8|
|Michael Brantley (L)||LF||315||11||43||46||5||.308||.356||.495||.364||131||1.2||0.5|
|Yonder Alonso (L)||1B||289||12||34||46||0||.257||.325||.448||.334||110||1.0||0.9|
|Lonnie Chisenhall (L)||RF||95||1||11||9||1||.321||.394||.452||.366||132||0.8||0.1|
|Jason Kipnis (L)||2B||330||7||34||34||2||.218||.298||.344||.285||76||0.5||0.1|
|Tyler Naquin (L)||CF||120||2||12||16||0||.281||.308||.377||.295||83||0.5||0.3|
The lion’s share of production from Cleveland’s position players is obviously coming from José Ramírez and Francisco Lindor. The pair have accounted for more than 80% of their total rWAR (fWAR has them at just 69.6% of Cleveland’s total). As a unit, Cleveland has amassed 14.8 fWAR, good for the sixth-best mark in baseball. They’ve slashed .255/.325/.440 with a .329 wOBA and 107 wRC+. That 107 wRC+ is tied for the fourth-best in baseball with the Cubs and Mariners.
How will the Royals fare against Cleveland?
This poll is closed
Royals take two of three
Cleveland takes two of three