The nightcap on Sunday features two teams who already have their postseason hopes locked up. Both the Red Sox and Indians have clinched their respective divisions, with the Red Sox winning the AL East and the Indians winning the AL Central. The Indians have had the division wrapped up before the All-Star Game. They were the beneficiaries of playing in the worst division in baseball this season.
There wasn’t anybody to compete with them. That team was supposed to be the Minnesota Twins, but right from the get-go, the Twins were not up for the challenge. The injury to Ervin Santana really changed the team dynamic in Minnesota. And with Lance Lynn struggling with his new club, the Twins didn’t have enough pitching to save their season.
Meanwhile, the Indians have had one of the best rotations in baseball this season. Last night, the Indians became the only team in baseball to have four pitchers with 200 strikeouts. Looking back at the history of Major League Baseball, and how far back it goes, it’s quite the accomplishment. The Indians are going to have a full compliment of quality hurlers in the postseason.
They are fortunate that they don’t have to play as a wildcard and have to play in a win or go home format. The Indians are now able to go deep into their rotation, which is their strength over other teams. Neither are pitching this evening, as rookie Adam Plutko gets a start on Sunday against the Red Sox. The Red Sox will go with Hector Velasquez, who had been in the minor league system for around ten years, before getting an opportunity with the Red Sox in 2018. He has made a total of 44 appearances with 7 starts, so they’ve used him primarily out of the bullpen as a reliever. Head below for our free Red Sox vs. Indians pick below.
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians Pick
Hector Velasquez (7-2, 3.18 ERA) vs. Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.27 ERA)
The main thing for the Red Sox and Indians is too stay healthy over the next week. In any case, they have been providing some entertaining baseball this weekend. The Tribe edged out the Red Sox by a score of 5-4 on Saturday, which followed a 7-5 Red Sox win on Friday night. So, it’s the rubber match in Cleveland tonight. Not exactly as exciting as a Game 7 in the postseason, which who knows, might happen between these clubs, but it gives a nice opportunity to Velasquez and Plutko to impress.
Velasquez hasn’t made a start since September 5th. In his last three starts on the bump, he’s been below average with an ERA of 5.06, 2.25 WHIP, and .463 OBA. He is awfully lucky he got out of that with just a 5.06 ERA. Most pitchers are not nearly that lucky when they put an average of 2.25 runners on base per inning.
Adam Plutko will do his best to give the Indians a momentum boost heading into the final week of the regular season. He will have to do much better than his most recent attempts, though. Plutko has a 6.19 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in his previous three and a 5.83 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in his last seven outings. He got shelled by the Red Sox in his last appearance against them, giving up 5 hits, 5 walks, and 5 runs in 4.1 innings. The Red Sox have a .500 OBP against Plutko in 18 at-bats. Overall, they are 1st in scoring with an average of 5.32 runs scored per game, while the Indians are 3rd with 5.03 runs per game. Look for an exciting series finale that puts this one OVER the total.