Cleveland has been slowly chipping away at Minnesota’s lead in the AL Central the entire second half and will have a chance to finally catch their nemesis in the standings this weekend with a 4-game series at Target Field in Minneapolis. The Twins have the opportunity to foil a month’s worth of work by the Indians with one good series.
These 4 games are the first of 10 remaining matchups between Minnesota and Cleveland. The two powerhouses have already met 9 times this year with Minnesota taking 5 of those games, beating Cleveland by an average of 4.4 to 3.6 and causing the under to hit 6 times.
Indians-Twins Pitching Matchups
Mike Clevinger faces Kyle Gibson in Game 1 on Thursday night. With a combined record of 17-6, both Clevinger and Gibson have been top-tier pitchers in the American League this year.
Despite the good pitching matchup, the Vegas total is set a 9, which is not low. This game is a toss-up, with each team receiving -110 moneyline odds.
In Game 2, Shane Bieber will oppose Devin Smeltzer. The 24-year-old Bieber has broken out this season, posting an 11-4 record with a 3.31 ERA and 182 strikeouts. Smeltzer is a spot-starter who is filling in for the injured Michael Pineda.
Advantage Cleveland in Game 2 Friday night. Minnesota desperately needs a good start from Gibson on Thursday because the pen is likely to be busy on Friday.
Game 3 on Saturday night features Adam Plutko and Jake Odorizzi.
Odorizzi is having a career-best age-29 season. His 12 wins leads the Twins and his 3.61 ERA is nearly a full run lower than his 2018 ERA.
Plutko has bounced in and out of the rotation this season but is currently back in after the Trevor Bauer trade.
One nightmarish outing back in July raised Odorizzi’s ERA substantially, so he is pitching even better than his numbers indicate. Strong advantage for Minnesota in Game 3.
In the 4th and final game, a Sunday matinee, rookie spot-starter Aaron Civale is making his 3rd big league start and will face off with Twins ace Jose Berrios.
Civale is making 2 consecutive starts for the first time ever in his young career while Berrios is coming off the worst start of his 2019 season.
In his 2 previous starts, Civale has put in 12 innings of work, striking out 13 while allowing just 1 earned run.
Berrios has been solid in 2019. He sports a 10-6 record with a 3.24 ERA. His previous start against the Braves was concerning as the 25-year-old allowed 9 earned runs. You have to figure that start will be in the back of Berrios’ mind as he takes the hill Sunday.
This is a fun matchup. Civale is on fire but unproven. Berrios has the name recognition will need to reestablish his winning ways.
I actually like Cleveland in this one. The prospect of beating Minnesota’s ace before returning back home to Cleveland for some family time should fire the Indians up.
I predict a 2-2 series split. This race will not be decided until much later in the season.
See you on top!