Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
Date and Time: Sunday, September 23, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Progressive Field
MLB Odds: Check Back Later
Probable Pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Adam Plutko
Red Sox vs. Indians TV Coverage: ESPN
In this contest, the Indians are getting the start to Adam Plutko who moves back into the rotation as Cleveland looks to keep its arms healthy and rested. The Red Sox have yet to announce their starter for Sunday night, but Nathan Eovaldi would be next in the rotation. This isn’t exactly a battle of the aces, but the two teams have more than just starting pitching to make this an exciting matchup to watch.
Head-to-head, the Indians and Red Sox have split four games this year, but Boston has a nine run advantage in those four games.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise as Boston is the superior offensive team though the both the Sox and the Tribe haven’t had many issues scoring runs this season. Boston ranks first in runs, the Indians third.
For the Red Sox, they have a pair of MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez who could very well finish first and second in the voting. The Indians’ Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor will both be in the mix too, but likely each fall behind the Sox’s duo.
Betts and Martinez have a 179 OPS+ and 174 OPS+ respectively, have combined for 70 home runs, 195 RBIs, 224 runs scored and even 33 steals. They also have both hit over .330, have each gotten on base more than 40-percen of the time and have 155 combined extra base hits.
While catcher and, to a lesser extend second base, have been offensive trouble spots for the team, the lineup still has depth.
The Indians haven’t gotten the offense they’ve wanted in the outfield, but Jason Kipnis has had a hot bat the last month and has moved to the outfield to make room for Ramirez at second who slides over from third with Josh Donaldson taking his spot.
If Donaldson gets hot, the Indians’ bats could be as strong as Boston’s. After all, they have three 30-homer bats in Ramirez, Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion while Michael Brantley, Yonder Alonso, Kipnis and Melky Cabrera lengthen the order.
On the mound, both the Red Sox and Indians have solid rotations, but the bullpens are where there is a bit of a differentiation. The Sox have been the better bullpen all year, but save for closer Craig Kimbrel, the unit has been trending in the wrong direction and has had trouble over the last month. The set up options have let down manager Alex Cora as the team struggled to finally clinch the AL East.
On the other side, the Indians’ Achilles Heel this season has been the bullpen. Despite a terrible division, it took a while for the Indians to run away with it because of the relief corps. Andrew Miller has battled injuries all year, Cody Allen has taken a step backwards and without mainstays like Bryan Shaw in the pen any longer, the Tribe failed to find anyone to step up and fill his shoes.
After adding Brad Hand and Adam Cimber at the trade deadline, the Indians have a bit more depth later in the game. Miller is back and Allen has been throwing the ball better over the last month.
The 28-year old right-hander has pitched in parts of seven seasons at the Major League level and the Red Sox are already his fifth big league franchise.
After putting up a solid 10 start run in Tampa Bay after coming off the DL, the Sox acquired the righty and have seen him have a moderate level of success in Boston, going 2-3 with a 3.64 ERA and 3.43 FIP. He’s been very good at keeping the ball in the park, but does have an elevated WHIP.
In 20 games this season combined between his two teams, he’s 5-7 with a 3.98 ERA and 106 ERA+, making him a solid mid-rotation starter.
Eovaldi is also coming off an impressive outing in his last start where he held a powerful New York Yankee lineup to two hits and no runs over six innings of work. So far in September, he’s thrown 13 innings and allowed just two runs and seven hits though he has walked eight.
The righty last played the Indians on August 21 and didn’t fair too well. He took the loss in the game, allowing four runs in 5.1 innings of work. He was hit hard in the game, allowing 10 hits. It was the first of three straight losses for Eovaldi. Since that start, the Sox are just 2-4 in six games with Eovaldi taking the ball.
It’s a return to the rotation for Plutko who will be making his first start since September 8. The rookie right-hander has had an up-and-down season filling in, going 4-5 with a 5.37 ERA in 11 starts. He’s been a bit better than that at home, going 3-2 with a 4.74 ERA in nine appearances, combined both in the rotation and in the pen.
The young righty is low on experience which comes into play in this game considering his counterpart is in his seventh big league season. Plutko is at a disadvantage there.
While we’ve seen some good stuff, at times, from Plutko, he’s largely been little more than a replacement level arm for the Tribe this year. His biggest issue has been the home run ball as he’s allowed 19 home runs in just 70 innings of work. That’s the same number of long balls as Mike Clevinger has allowed in more than double the number of innings.
The righty last appeared in a game on September 16, pitching a scoreless inning against the Tigers. While he came out unscathed, he did give up a pair of hits. In his last start, he allowed five runs and three home runs in 4.2 innings against the Blue Jays. It was his second straight starter with at least three homers allowed.
Red Sox vs. Indians Picks
These are two great offensive teams sending questionable starters to the mound on Sunday, look for plenty of runs.
Eovaldi is the more trustworthy arm of the two starters. He’s coming off a good start and could carry that into Sunday. Look for the Indians to score a few off of him and add a few more against the suspect middle relievers in Boston, but all in all, the Boston offense should outdo the Tribe.
Plutko has been homer prone in his last couple starts and with Betts, Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Davers and a number of other big bats, the Red Sox should be able to take advantage and drive a few balls out of the park.
While the Indians’ bullpen has improved of late, if Terry Francona has to go to the pen early in the game, he’s still short on quality options.
Look for an early bomb or two for the Sox to give them the lead as the Indians keep the game close against Eovaldi, but ultimately loss the shootout to the game’s best offense.
Red Sox vs. Indians Pick: Red Sox at BookMaker.eu
Red Sox vs. Indians Score Prediction: Red Sox 8, Indians 5