We have interleague baseball for Wednesday night when the Cleveland Indians meet the Chicago Cubs for game-two of a two-game series. Both clubs will likely make the expanded playoffs but this is a re-run of the 2016 World Series and I expect both clubs to be up for this two-game affair.
This preview was written prior to the start of Tuesday MLB contests and all opinions are based on Monday MLB action.
Indians Six Game Losing StreakCleveland enters this series third in the American League Central standings and is five games behind the White Sox and three games behind the Minnesota Twins. The Indians are mired in a six-game losing streak and has lost seven of its last ten games. Infielder Jose Ramirez leads the Indians with 11 dingers and a club-high 28 RBI this season.
The Indians pitching staff ranks second in baseball with a 3.24 team ERA and the offense checks in at number 25 with a .227 team batting average over 1538 at-bats this season.
Righty Aaron Civale (3-5, 3.88) is Cleveland’s probable starting pitcher for Wednesday and over 58 innings pitched has allowed 57 hits, 25 earned runs with seven bombs, and ten walks. Civale has 56 strikeouts this season and is up against a Cubs offense with a 26 percent strikeout rate and .195 ISO over 1307 plate appearances this season.
Cubs First in NL CentralChicago is first in the National League Central and has a four-game lead over the St Louis Cardinals. The Cubs are riding a two-game winning streak and has won five of its previous ten games. Outfielder Ian Happ leads Chicago with a dozen bombs and 28 RBI this season.
Outfielder Cameron Maybin is listed as day to day for Tuesday.
The Cubs offense ranks twenty-sixth in baseball with a .227 team batting average and the arms are ranked ninth with a 4.03 team ERA over 413 innings pitched this season.
Lefty Jon Lester (2-2, 5.05) is the Chicago probable starting pitcher, and over 46.1 innings pitched has allowed 50 hits with 26 earned runs, nine bombs and a dozen walks. Lester has struck out 37 strikeouts and is up against a Cleveland offense with a 22 percent strikeout rate and .129 ISO over 418 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season.
Stats & Trends
The Cubs won their previous two meetings this season and behind Lester, they will win again on Wednesday. The Indians' bats are awful and even though Ramirez is heating up, the offense still leaves a LOT to be desired. Civale has been good and I expect to see him rack up some strikeouts but the Cubs have a loaded lineup and a high ISO and I suspect they will rough Civale up a bit. I like the Chicago bullpen better than I like the Indians pen and I will take the Cubs to win this game.