There is one contender reeling and another thriving in the AL Central. This sounds a lot like the storyline of exactly one year ago in this division. The only difference is the teams who are in those roles. Last season it was the Cleveland Indians who left everyone else in the AL Central far behind. Early in 2019, it’s all about the Minnesota Twins, while the Indians are reeling.
Everyone thought the Twins were going to get going last season and give the Indians a scare at least. That never happened, and I think it’s the same thing this season. Some people are waiting for the Indians to wake up and go on their run, but who knows if that will ever come. 8 games down in the AL Central, they are going to need the Twins to slow down as well. The Twins are a good team. I don’t see this being a fluky start, so the Indians have a lot of work in front of them.
They were no match for the Rays on Thursday, as it was easy pickings against Adam Plutko. With injuries to Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger, the Indians have been forced to go with Plutko and Jefry Rodriguez. Trevor Bauer has been having a tough time finding a groove, so it’s been difficult for a rotation that was expected to be one of the best in baseball. As a team, they own a collective ERA of 4.03 for 11th in the majors. Last season they finished 3rd with an ERA of 3.39.
The Rays are hanging tough in the AL East and doing a good attempt of keeping up with the Yankees. The Yankees have been going wild on a monster run, while the Rays have been forced to play keep up. Only 2 games back in the division, I’d say that they aren’t doing a bad job here. Realistically the Rays look like a wildcard team, though. Even if they don’t catch the Yankees, there is still an alternative of getting into the postseason. They will go with former Cy Young winner, Blake Snell, while the Indians counter with Shane Bieber. Head below for our free Rays vs. Indians pick.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Indians Pick:
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Blake Snell won a Cy Young in 2018 and deservedly so after what he did for the Rays last season. He went 21-5 with a record of 1.89, and most impressively, did it on a team that didn’t have a top-flight offense. Snell got more run support than Jacob deGrom at least, but he didn’t have the benefit of playing on a top-15 offensive unit.
Offensively the Rays are right on pace with what they did last season, but he also has a No. 2 guy behind him that is helping out. The Rays get an A for signing Charlie Morton after he believed the Astros weren’t giving him a fair deal.
Morton was especially helpful when Snell didn’t get off to a great start by his standards. It appears that Snell is locked in and the Cy Young hangover is over, though. After getting humiliated with 7 earned runs against the Royals, Snell has picked it up and back pitching like it’s 2018 again. A wake up call is what some guys need to finally focus and that might have been the case with Snell.
In his previous three games, which includes 17.2 innings of work, Snell has surrendered just 11 hits and 3 runs. His ERA has been stellar with a 1.53 to go along with a WHIP of 0.79 and .227 OBA. His success against the Indians has been well-documented, too. Snell has held this currently Cleveland lineup to a .167 batting average and 1 home run in 42 at-bats.
Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez are the only hitters that have been able to hit Snell. Shane Bieber has been pitching effectively, but his team have been lifeless at the plate recently. The Indians have scored just 9 runs in their last three games and I don’t see how it gets better having to deal with Snell on Friday. When he is locked in, it’s awfully difficult to get on base against Snell. Consider the Rays on Friday to hand the Indians their fourth straight loss.