Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Indians 28-29    White Sox 26-29

GAMETIMES: Thursday and Friday 7:10, Saturday and Sunday 1:10

TV: Thursday, Saturday, Sunday NBCSN, Friday WGN

PREPARING THE VIKING FUNERAL: Let’s Go Tribe

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Carlos Carrasco vs. Manny Banuelos

Trevor Bauer vs. Dylan Covey

Jefry Rodriguez vs. Ivan Nova

Zach Plesac vs. Lucas Giolito

PROBABLE INDIANS LINEUP

Francisco Lindor – SS

Oscar Mercado – CF

Carlos Santana – 1B

Jordan Luplow – RF

Jose Ramirez – 3B

Roberto Perez – C

Jake Bauers – 1B

Greg Allen – LF

Mike Freeman – 2B

PROBABLE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – CF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

Yonder Alonso – DH

James McCann – C

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Tim Anderson – SS

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

Charlie Tilson – RF

 

An actual torch-passing would be overselling it by a factor of three. And there are no torches for teams that aren’t leading the division, or even close, or even .500. So it’s not that. But there is something about the Sox being able to pass Cleveland in the standings at the end of this four-game set on 35th this weekend. They’re only a game behind, so any kind of series win would do it. That doesn’t mean that the Sox are in any way primed to charge at the Twins, and last weekend pretty much proved that. What it does signify is that Cleveland’s era of lording over the Central is almost certainly over, and their window of contention might be as well. What they do with that is going to become the main question on the Cuyahoga the next couple months.

The Sox have played The Tribe enough this year that you’re intimately familiar with the issues. Two-fifths of their rotation is on the shelf for an extended period of time in Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber. Three if you wanted to count Danny Salazar among the starters, though that’s a stretch.

What is healthy hasn’t been any damn good, at least not with lumber in their hands. Lindor appears to be emerging from his early season malaise, but other than Santana everyone else has looked like the guy playing the Gashouse Gorillas before Bugs took over. Jordan Luplow has ground the Sox bones into his bread but hasn’t done jack or shit against anyone else. Another kid in Bauers has been given the first base job to win, and he’s hitting .215. Put plainly, they rank third-from-last in runs in the AL and team wOBA, which is at a gruesome .298. Even a reclamation of Ramirez probably isn’t enough to save this team. Luplow and Bauers converting their promise to tangible might be enough, but there probably isn’t time to wait for that.

Which puts Cleveland on the precipice of having to cash in on what they can and start over. They have both Ramirez and Lindor through 2022, which is a start (assuming Ramirez isn’t a smoldering corpse permanently). What could they turn in at the deadline and try and collect chips on? Kluber has two team option years left, neither of which are even $20M, which would make him awfully attractive. Though he may not want to go unless teams guarantee they won’t pick those up. Trevor Bauer has one more arbitration year left, and even though he’s Captain Space Brain some team will find that attractive. With Clevinger and Bieber around for a while, those are blows the Tribe could soak up and survive, you would think. Carrasco has an extremely team-friendly deal and could net them a Quintana-like package. Except he’s already 32, though he did just have a 2.94 FIP last year. There are pieces.

The Sox will see another kid who could make up for the blow of whatever pitchers the Indians move along, and that’s in Zach Plesac. Plesac rocketed through the system this year, starting in Double-A but needed only six starts there with a 0.98 ERA to move up a level. Then in three AAA starts he struck out 22 while walking one, so here he is. The only let-up for the Sox is that Bauer hasn’t been all that good, they’ve already lit him up once, and then Gasoline Alley Jefry on Saturday afternoon.

It’s not a torch passing. But it is one team watching it all close while the other is trying to jimmy theirs open (phrasing?). What we’re saying is there’s symbolism here if you want to find it. Or don’t. We don’t are.

 

 

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: White Sox 14-18   Cleveland 18-14

GAMETIMES: Monday-Wednesday 5:10

TV: NBCSN Monday-Wednesday 

THEY’RE STILL SHITTY: Let’s Go Tribe

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Ivan Nova vs. Trevor Bauer

Lucas Giolito vs. Jefry Rodriguez

Reynaldo Lopez vs. Shane Bieber

WHITE SOX PROBABLE LINEUP

Leury Garcia – CF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

Yonder Alonso – DH

James McCann – C

Nicky Delmonico – LF

Tim Anderson – SS

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

Charlie Tilson – RF

CLEVELAND PROBABLE LINEUP

Francisco Lindor – SS

Jason Kipnis – 2B

Jose Ramirez – 3B

Carlos Santana – 1B

Carlos Gonzalez – LF

Jake Bauers – DH

Jordan Luplow – CF

Tyler Naquin – RF

Roberto Perez – C

 

After two consecutive self-immolations against the Carmines, along with three straight losses after a pretty satisfying walk-off win against the title-holders, the White Sox escape town and head to the familiar environs of The Jake. There they’ll find a Cleveland team that is no longer on the AL Central throne as had been custom, and one that has a few too many guys in the infirmary.

The big issues for the Tribe is that two-fifths of their rotation (three if you count Danny Salazar, but that’s iffy) is on the DL and not for a short time either. Mike Clevinger is out until at least June with a back-iotomy, and Cory Kluber has forearm-knack after taking a liner off of it. He’s out at least a month, and could be longer. That has slotted Jefry Rodriguez and Cody Anderson into the rotation, which is clearly a downgrade.

Sadly, the rotation is still being held together somewhat by professional butthead Trevor Bauer, though he is riding the good side of the BABIP Dragon and any market correction on that .221 mark could be violent. He’s giving up line-drives far more than he did last year, and you know about the Cleveland outfield defense. Carlos Carrasco is on the other side of the coin, seeing a 5.00+ ERA even though he’s striking out over 12 hitters per nine innings while walking less than two. You could easily argue that both of their market corrections will even out.

They’ve needed everything they can get out of the starters, because the offense has not clicked into gear at all. In fact, it’s shambolic. Jose Ramirez is hitting .200. Lindor is hitting .229. Jason Kipnis has a 24 wRC+, and he’s been forced into the lineup. Only Carlos Santana is going up to the plate with something other than a side of beef. And with the power show the Twins are putting up, Cleveland is not going anywhere if Lindor and Ramirez at least don’t get back to their MVP-form of yesteryear and probably get some help.

It’s not the funk out of the pen these days either as it used to be. Closer Brad Hand (and his rad band) has been excellent, but beyond that it’s been iffy, though of late old war horses Tyler Clippard and Oliver Perez, along with Adam Cimber, have straightened that out.

The Sox will try and relocate their offense, which produced four runs over the last three games against the BoSox. Hey, sometimes Chris Sale will do that to you but you shouldn’t be getting it up your giggy by Rick Porcello. Ivan Nova against this lineup is probably the definition of a taffy pull, but if he’s going to get right against anyone this would seem to be the time. And hey, two weeks against the Erie Warriors and Blue Jays is better than the Astros and Twins, which await after this.