It wasn’t that long ago that the Minnesota Twins were considered a foregone conclusion to win the AL Central. This seemed especially certain after the Indians, a team that many had expected to compete with them for the division, suffered a series of devastating injuries that appeared to leave them for dead. Amazingly, the Indians have somehow found a way to weather the injury front and now find themselves in a dead heat with Minnesota for the lead in the A.L. Central. Monday, Cleveland will see if they can keep pace with the upstart Twins as they enter into game one of a three game set against the defending champion Red Sox in a series that features plenty of playoff implications for both teams.
Money Line- Red Sox (-110), Indians (+105)
Run Line- Red Sox -1.5% (+140), Indians +1.5% (-150)
Over/Under- 10 (O-110, U+100)
First Pitch- 7:10 PM ET, Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
It’s somewhat amazing that the Indians find themselves in the position they do when you consider the injuries and other issues they have had to deal with this season. 3 out of the original 5 starting pitchers for the team when the season began are no longer there. Corey Kluber, who many designate as the ace of the staff, has been out with a broken arm; Carlos Carrasco has been battling leukemia, and the Indians just traded talented starter Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds. Add to that the injuries earlier this year involving All-Star Shortstop Francisco Lindor and Second Baseman Jason Kipnis, and it’s hard to wonder how it’s even possible that the Indians find themselves within striking distance of the division lead.
A large part of this reason can be attributed to the Indians veteran lineup. Players like Jose Ramirez and the aforementioned Lindor have provided their usual steadfast contributions to the Indians offense, but it’s been players like All-Star First Baseman Carlos Santana, whose batting a career high .282 with 25 home runs, and Second Baseman Jason Kipnis, who hit a season best .273 in the month of June and has never looked back, that have really helped carry the Indians back into contention in mid August. The Indians also added to this already potent group at the trade deadline when they acquired Outfielders Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes from the Reds and Padres respectively. The Tribe’s devastating lineup has carried them back into contention, and with the return of Corey Kluber on the horizon, the sky seems to be the limit for a franchise that’s already shown it knows how to win in October.
Boston Red Sox
To say that the Boston Red Sox have had a disappointing 2019 would be a massive understatement. Coming into this series with the Indians, the Red Sox find themselves 16 games out of first place in their division and 7.5 games out of a wild card spot in the A.L. There are a host of reasons the Red Sox find themselves in the position they do, but the biggest one seems to be the underachievement of several pivotal players that were supposed to carry the team to new heights. Starting Pitcher Chris Sale has not lived up to the massive contract extension he received in the offseason, going 6-11 with a 4.41 Earned Run Average (ERA), while Pitcher David Price, who similarly signed a massive contract with the team a few seasons ago, was 7-5 with a 4.36 ERA before landing on the 10 day Injured List (IL).
Offensively, Mookie Betts, last year’s A.L. MVP, and Outfielder Andrew Benentendi haven’t looked like the same caliber of players that helped carry the Sox to a World Series just a season ago. The Red Sox have also got almost nothing out of the First Base position as Mitch Moreland has struggled to produce all season long. The Sox front office already seems to have waved the white flag on this year when they made no moves to improve their roster at the trade deadline. Now they can do nothing but sit back and hope their team finds some way to get hot enough to carry them into a chance to play for October.
Analysis and Prediction
This is an important series with playoff implications for both teams. The Red Sox desperately need a win if they want to realistically stay within contention for post-season play. Despite the disappointment of the Red Sox season, both of these teams appear fairly evenly well matched on paper. The Red Sox play in the much tougher AL East, which perhaps has contributed to some of the on field struggles we have seen this year. Pitching always seems to be the difference when it comes to October, and the Indians are much better suited to compete in that area as they enter this series 3rd in MLB with a 3.64 ERA. The Red Sox on the other hand are 21st with a 4.81 ERA entering play tonight. It’s simply too hard to trust the Red Sox right now, so I’ll take the Indians on the money line +105 to roll at home in the opener of this 3 game series.