The Indians are leading the American League Central while the Rays are in the thick of the hunt for the wild card, so this is a critical series for both sides.
Cleveland Indians vs. Tampa Bay Rays Jays
Dates: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 – Thursday, August 10, 2017
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
The Rays currently sit a game out of the second wild card spot, but there are a ton of teams within a few games of each other. They will need to play well down the stretch, especially at home. Even though the Indians have a strong team and will be rolling out some impressive starting pitchers in this series, the Rays have to find a way to win some games.
Cleveland seems like it should be hitting its stride at the right time as its rotation is getting healthy. The Indians have some of the most talented pieces among any team in the American League.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Thursday, August 10, 2017, 7:10 p.m. ET (MLB Network)
Blake Snell (Rays) vs. Danny Salazar (Indians)
Snell was called back up by the Rays from Triple-A this week after Alex Cobb was placed on the disabled list with turf toe. The 24-year-old will try to make the most of this opportunity, most likely just a single start before heading back to the minors, after struggling on the mound this season. He is 0-6 with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP but does have some upside.
Salazar had one of the best games of his career last weekend against the Yankees, despite the Indians’ 2-1 loss. The 27-year-old struck out a personal-best 12 batters and allowed one run on four hits in seven innings pitched Saturday. He was not a factor in the decision. Salazar will be critical to the Indians’ postseason chances this year as he remains a key piece to the rotation behind Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. He has 105 strikeouts on the season.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Friday, August 11, 2017, 7:10 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Jacob Faria (Rays) vs. Carlos Carrasco (Indians)
Carrasco had a strong start against the Yankees on Sunday, but came undone in his sixth inning. With the bases loaded and the game tied, a three-run triple by Jacoby Ellsbury proved to be the tipping point for the Yankees, who went on to win 8-1. Carrasco, who was pulled from the game following that damaging triple by Ellsbury, has allowed ten earned runs over his last two starts (7.1 innings) and will try to turn things around against Tampa Bay on Friday. He has the talent to do so.
Faria enters this contest with a 2.81 ERA. He is comes into this game fresh off a strong performance against Milwaukee last Friday where allowed just one run on four hits in six innings pitched, striking out nine batters in the process. Even so, he is the less established starter.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Saturday, August 12, 2017, 6:10 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Chris Archer (Rays) vs. Mike Clevinger (Indians)
Clevinger had a strong start to the season, but the Indians rookie has hit a rough stretch lately. In his last eight innings pitched, the 26-year-old has allowed 14 runs on 18 hits while walking seven. Most young pitchers hit stumbling blocks like Clevinger has so it’s nothing to panic over, but he will look certainly be looking for a better showing this weekend, especially as Kansas City tries to close the gap in the AL Central.
Archer is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. Tampa Bay won’t have the starting pitching advantage very often in this series but it definitely has it in this one. Archer needs to put up a nice outing and the offense has to make sure it holds up. This is close to a must-win if the Rays want to capture this series.
Game 4 Probable Pitchers – Sunday, August 13, 2017, 1:10 p.m. ET (TBS)
Austin Pruitt (Rays) vs. Corey Kluber (Indians)
Pruitt’s ERA this season fell to 5.14 after he had a strong showing against the Red Sox on Tuesday, allowing just one run on seven hits in six inning pitched. But Chris Sale had the better day, finishing with 13 strikeouts in eight innings pitched. Pruitt faces another tough matchup in Sunday’s game against Cleveland with a red-hot Kluber on the hill.
Kluber has been sensational this season for the Indians. He enters this matchup with a 10-3 record, a 2.65 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. In his last two starts, the 31-year-old has allowed a combined two runs on four hits while striking out 22 batters, pitching nine full innings each time. He has accumulated 60 strikeouts in the last 145 batters faced.