The Yankees still haven’t faced a team they didn’t oppose last season, and this series will be no different. Tonight marks the first of four in Cleveland. Hopefully it’s a repeat of what happened the last time the Bombers were there. The Yanks made quick work of Cleveland in last year’s Wild Card series.
Their story so far
Terry Francona’s club can pitch with the best of them, but good grief, they cannot hit. It’s a lot like last year, except without Francisco Lindor, of course. And after subtracting arguably the best player on the team, Cleveland’s preseason win total projection stood at just 82 entering this season, per FanGraphs. That would be the team’s lowest win total since going 81-80 in 2015 (not counting last year’s 35-25 record, of course). From 2016 and on, Cleveland’s win totals were: 94, 102, 91, 93, and 35 (95 win-pace in 2020). Gotta trade Lindor though!
So far, Cleveland’s played in line with the FanGraphs projection. They’re 8-8 and have lost five of the last eight games played. I suppose I should note that PECOTA is a little more favorable, pushing them into the mid-80s.
They’ve only played division rivals and the Reds thus far. The team’s lone series win was a three game sweep of the Tigers at Progressive Field from April 9th to the 11th. There are a couple of series splits in there, but generally, it’s been a not so great performance. This, in spite of a terrific 3.45 team ERA (7th-best in MLB). Only the Mets (because of a zillion rainouts), Brewers, Dodgers, and Giants have given up fewer runs.
The team’s offense has scored just 62 runs (3.875 per game), which is somehow three more than the Yankees. And Cleveland has played one fewer game than the Yanks, mind you. Ugh.
Cleveland was supposed to finish up a brief two game set against the White Sox yesterday, but the game was postponed due to snow. The forecast looks better for this series, at least (albeit still chilly).
|Cam Hill||RHP||Wrist surgery||60-day IL||June|
Spotlight: Emmanuel Clase
Move over James Karinchak — Cleveland has a new relief ace. Not that Karinchak is chopped liver or anything. Clase, who was part of the return for Corey Kluber prior to the 2020 season, has dominated out of the bullpen this season. This early season performance comes after he missed all of last year due to a PED suspension.
Clase, a 6-foot-2 righty flamethrower, has given up three runs in 7.1 innings thus far, but all were unearned. He’s struck out 10 batters (30.3 percent), and walked 2 (6.1 percent). He does most of his damage with a ridiculous cutter that averages — yes, averages — 100.2 MPH per Statcast. The righty uses that cutter 72.3 percent of the time, but will also mix in a slider at a cool 91.1 MPH.
Clase is Cleveland’s closer and has converted on four out of five save opportunities so far this year. His blown save was a bit of tough luck, though. Last week against Cincinnati, first baseman Josh Naylor let what should have been a game ending grounder go through the wickets. Would have been the last out of an easy 1-2-3 frame. Instead, the Reds tied things up the very next batter.
Hopefully, the Yankees won’t need to face Clase at all this weekend. It’s been tough enough for this offense to score runs. Clase doesn’t seem like the kind of pitcher you’d want to face in the midst of a slump.
Here’s Roster Resource’s projected batting order for Cleveland:
- Amed Rosario, CF (.182/.265/.273, 55 wRC+)
- Cesar Hernandez, 2B (.167/.286/.250, 60 wRC+)
- José Ramírez, 3B (.217/.294/.433, 99 wRC+)
- Eddie Rosario, LF (.224/.281/.397, 88 wRC+)
- Franmil Reyes, DH (.273/.317/.545, 138 wRC+)
- Josh Naylor, RF (.255/.296/.353, 83 wRC+)
- Roberto Pérez, C (.200/.378/.457, 141 wRC+)
- Jake Bauers, 1B (.148/.207/.185, -1 wRC+)
- Andrés Giménez, SS (.235/.297/.500, 122 wRC+)
- Austin Hedges, C (.067/.125/.267, -20 wRC+)
- Yu Chang, INF (.214/.267/.286, 56 wRC+)
- Jordan Luplow, OF (.267/.405/.800, 225 wRC+)
RHP Domingo Germán
Germán returns after he was optioned and spent the requisite ten days at the Alternate Site. He pitched on Saturday in Scranton after two not very good starts for the Yankees earlier this month. The righty enters tonight with a 9.00 ERA in 7 innings, plus four homers allowed. (Stats vs. Cleveland)
RHP Aaron Civale
Civale was supposed to start yesterday before the postponement. He’s delivered three quality starts thus far and owns a 2.18 ERA in 20.2 frames. Two of those outings were against Detroit, though the most recent was against a better offense in the White Sox. (Stats vs. Yankees)
LHP Jordan Montgomery
The tall lefty pitched better than his line indicated last time out (6 innings, 4 runs). Aaron Boone tried to steal the seventh inning and it backfired. Monty has a 4.24 ERA through three starts. (Stats vs. Cleveland)
LHP Logan Allen
Allen came to Cleveland via San Diego as part of the three team deal that send Trevor Bauer to the Reds a couple years ago. He profiles as a back-end starter and has been so-so in 2021. He got knocked around in Cincinnati last week after allowing 3 runs in his first two starts (10 innings). (Never faced the Yankees)
RHP Gerrit Cole
This pitching matchup is shaping up to be a doozy. Although, I wouldn’t mind a repeat of Cole vs. Bieber from Game 1 of the Wild Card series last year. Cole’s off to a great start in 2021: in four starts, he’s given up just one homer and owns a 1.82 ERA. (Stats vs. Cleveland)
RHP Shane Bieber
Like Cole, Bieber is on a tear to begin 2021. He’s racked up an absurd 48 strikeouts in 29.1 frames, and has struck out at least 11 batters in all four of his starts. He’s clearly wiped away the memory of giving up 7 runs (and 2 homers) to the Yankees in the playoffs. (Stats vs. Yankees)
TBD (RHP Jameson Taillon?)
This would be Jameson Taillon’s turn on regular rest, though the team has yet to start him on a regular turn so far. He was great against Atlanta on Tuesday (5 innings, 1 run). If not Taillon, maybe we’ll get our first look at Deivi García in the majors in 2021. (Stats vs. Cleveland)
RHP Triston McKenzie
The 6-foot-5 righty has a 3.55 ERA in 12.1 innings (3 starts). The Brooklyn-born McKenzie(though he grew up in Florida) faced the Yankees in the playoffs last year and gave up a two-run homer to Gary Sánchez in relief. He’s been a consensus top-100 prospect for a few years running. (No regular season stats vs. Yankees)
|Oliver Pérez (L)|
|Sam Hentges (L)||16|
Yesterday’s postponement due to snow gave Cleveland’s bullpen a day off entering this series. That means it’ll be all hands on deck for tonight’s series opener.