A potential American League playoff preview will commence on Thursday when the New York Yankees host the Cleveland Indians for a four-game set that could prove to be the most telling series of the weekend.
The Yanks’ stronghold over the AL East has pretty much been in effect since the onset of the campaign but in the Central, it was the Minnesota Twins who took control from the beginning. They even had an 11.5-game lead in June, but that wasn’t enough to hold off Cleveland, who entered Tuesday’s action a half-game up.
Even if the Indians cannot fend off Minnesota, they’re still probably going to be playoff bound, making this perhaps a peek into the future should these two clubs meet again October. Let’s evaluate the pitching matchups.
Adam Plutko vs. Masahiro Tanaka (Thursday): Tanaka came through with a much-needed dominant showing his last time out, this after manufacturing an ugly 11.57 ERA in his previous four starts. He’s definitely better than his numbers on the campaign, so don’t be surprised to see the veteran right-hander keep it going.
Plutko would like to do the same thing. The 27-year-old has pitched the Indians into the sixth inning or deeper in all five of his starts since the All-Star break, a streak he had never duplicated previously. He’s settling in but his 5.47 ERA on the road doesn’t bode well for his chances in the Bronx. OVER
Aaron Civale vs. Chad Green (Friday): The Yankees have not yet announced a starter for Friday’s affair but look for Green to serve as the opener. That’s been a promising proposition for New York considering the hard-throwing right-hander has notched a nice 1.80 ERA in the role, yielding three runs across 15 innings. Nestor Cortes Jr., usually the “primary” pitcher behind him, has been solid.
It may not matter who the Yankees roll out after Green if Cleveland’s starter, Civale, continues to completely shut down the opposition. The Northeastern graduate has gone six innings in each of his first three starts and allowed only a pair of runs total — that comes out to a 1.00 ERA. UNDER
Zach Plesac vs. James Paxton (Saturday): If the Yankees are going to win it all, Paxton has to be the ace that he’s capable of being down the stretch and into the postseason. The former Seattle Mariner has displayed early signs of accomplishing this, entering this assignment with three straight quality starts. Shockingly, it’s only the left-hander’s second time this season amassing such a streak.
Plesac hasn’t yet churned out three consecutive quality starts in his rookie showing but that doesn’t mean the 24-year-old hasn’t been impressive. In fact, he’s surrendered two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 14 assignments. At the same time, Plesac can be prone to the long ball and he doesn’t miss a lot of bats, making this a challenging spot for the youngster. OVER
Mike Clevinger vs. Domingo German (Sunday): After coming off the shelf in mid-June, Clevinger went through a little rough patch before apparently resorting back to usual form. He’s been so good that in his last seven starts, the right-hander has given up only nine runs total, logging a pristine 1.83 ERA. Clevinger has also accumulated a 58-10 K/BB ratio within this stretch, spanning 44.1 innings.
German, meanwhile, has been doing his thing all year, hence why he sits at an incredible 15-2 to go with a 4.05 ERA. Lately, though, he’s been a little more vulnerable, as evidenced by him notching only one quality start in his last four turns. The new-look Indians lineup may get to him. OVER
Last week: 4-0