Series Preview: Indians @ Angels (Tiptoeing Around the Cellar)

Indians (21-17) @ Angels (17-22)

The Angels avoided being swept in Boston on Sunday afternoon, thanks to some late Shohei Ohtani heroics around the Pesky Pole (side note: what a oddly-shaped park, from left field to right. I will never cease to dislike it).

The Cleveland Indians come into town having lost the last three games of their series with the Mariners. A team on a mini-slump? Say no more.

Screenshot from Fangraphs

This is a three-game series, with Monday and Tuesday at 6:30 pm and Wednesday a minor getaway at 5 pm.

Indians Lineup

The team that traded away Francisco Lindor in the offseason has the fifth-lowest OPS in the Majors. Go figure.

Screenshot from Fangraphs

This team does not hit for average at all. There is some pop, but there are very few strikeouts and very few base hits.

The hitter leading the way is José Ramírez, who became the most talented position player on the team after Lindor was moved. He has rather quietly been one of the most consistent players in baseball since 2017, and he’s racking up the numbers again in 2021, with eleven home runs and a .919 OPS as of Sunday morning.

Jordan Luplow has been inserted into the starting lineup for an offensive spark, and he’s adding solid production in limited time, only hitting .190, but his walks and extra base hits are good enough to give him a .814 OPS.

Other than the aforementioned two and Franmil Reyes, who has bopped nine home runs, the rest of the lineup is not scary at all. Most of the other regulars feature an OPS in the .500s and .600s. Only Josh Naylor is a league-average hitter, and he barely scrapes that mark.

If the Indians are still in the playoff hunt at the trade deadline, expect them to acquire an offensive weapon. They sorely need it.

Probable Pitchers

Screenshot from 538

Patrick Sandoval makes his first start of the season on Monday. He’s had three outings from the bullpen thus far in 2021, two solid ones, one disastrous one. His stuff should play really well on the mound, and it’s the walks that have killed him both this year and in his career. The Indians are a good matchup for him, as he can attack the hitters without fearing disastrous repercussions. If Sandoval is still missing the plate and walking Cleveland hitters, I’ll squint a little harder at his numbers.

Sandoval matches up against Sam Hentges, the lefty who is trying to plug the fifth spot in the Cleveland rotation. In thirteen innings, Hentges has gotten knocked around, and his peripherals aren’t that great either. However, he’s a lefty and rookie, facing the Angels, so…

Tuesday the Angels send Andrew Heaney, coming off one of his cold outings, to the mound against Zach Plesac. Plesac is the anti-new era pitcher.

Screenshot from Baseball Savant

His fastball doesn’t spin and his curveball doesn’t spin. He induces a lot of contact and doesn’t walk or strikeout many hitters. If you hate the way baseball pitching is trending, you’ll love Plesac. Plesac carried a no-hitter through seven-plus in his last time out against the Mariners. Considering he’s bamboozled hitters countless times with his stuff and the Angels haven’t seen him since he pitched a CGSO on September 10, 2019, expect the Angels to have some trouble with his wizardry.

On Wednesday, Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound after getting pushed back a couple days (demonstrating the need for a six-man rotation. Side note: because the Angels’ starters have more time between starts, shouldn’t they be pushing it more each start, and shouldn’t Joe Maddon be giving them longer leashes? Just some thoughts). Ohtani matches up against (literally, as one would think he will hit as well) Aaron Civale, another pitcher with below-average velocity, not a ton of strikeouts, who is extremely successful. Civale throws a fastball, cutter, splitter, curveball, slider, and sinker to devastating effect.

Indians Bullpen

Screenshot from Fangraphs

The bullpen is a huge strength for Cleveland. Somehow the most dominant reliever in baseball, James Karinchak, is not the closer, AND that decision might be a good one! Karinchak, who basically throws from behind his head, meaning his release point is somewhat around where a left-hander’s might be, throws fastball-curveball, and he strikes out over 53% of batters he faces. It’s good for a WHIP of 0.46 in 2021. Hitting sucks in 2021.

Emmanuel Clase, the closer, throws a 101 mph cutter. He’s allowing a ton of hits at the moment, but they haven’t translated into runs, as his ERA is somewhere around 1, and his stuff is too good for the hits to continue falling. He’s elite as well.

Bryan Shaw and Nick Wittgren are still kicking it around in Cleveland, rather successfully, demonstrating that the pen has all sorts of crazy depth.

Series Prediction

The Angels absolutely must win Monday night against the weakest pitcher of the lot. From there, the goal will be to win one more. As we can see from 538 above, the expectation is probably 1.5 wins apiece in the series.

(Title Image from Indians Twitter)

23 Comments
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Eric_in_Portland
Super Member
2 months ago

I predict Arnold or whatever the guy’s name is….the new Dodger….will hit a homerun tonight. It’ll be awful. And then after tonight it’ll be the old lovable Arthur Pujols we remember.

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago

GIDP more likely

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
2 months ago

More like 2 and a K. Or is it 2 K’s and one DP. I figured out why he is so slow, Angels paid him daily in Quarters.

Angels2020Champs
Super Member
2 months ago

2 groundouts to SS sound all too familiar

UtahAlumnus
Trusted Member
2 months ago

I mean, teams go on runs every year. Why not the angels right now?

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  UtahAlumnus

We’ve been on the runs. Ours just came with toilet paper

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago

We win the series 3-1. If our BP is good, we sweep!

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago

Ummmm isn’t it a 3 game series?

UtahAlumnus
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

We win each game 3-1. That’s a bold and very specific prediction 🙂

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

Fat fingered that one.

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

That’s what he meant though. 😄 

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
2 months ago

We will have our hands full against a WHIP of 0.46. But I think Sandoval would like to show he can start and pitches well against suck an weak hitting line up. So GPB predicts a win tonight of 5-3, yup.

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago

GPB is rumored to be a very biased source of analysis and predictions 😉

Last edited 2 months ago by Fansince1971
WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I don’t trust PujolsBaseball

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
2 months ago

I am so glad and happy that Sandoval is starting and a endemic offense. We will win tonight if Joe does not screw things up with relief pitching choices.

Eric_in_Portland
Super Member
2 months ago

I expect Trout’s fluke single will be the start of another hot streak.

SScott
Trusted Member
2 months ago

Boy am I hoping that’s the case. They really need to get Rendon going as well. Yes, I’m the king of the obvious.

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  SScott

We need pitching

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
2 months ago

Nobody has thought of that yet, Jeez…. 😆 

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago

Auto loss against Hentges – a lefty.

Have a chance against the two righties.

UtahAlumnus
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

Please shut your mouth (stepbrothers reference). We’re sweeping!

JackFrost
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  UtahAlumnus

You please shut-up and don’t jinx us !!!

JackFrost
Super Member
2 months ago

While we are lucky not to have to see Bieber in this series we should more than have our hands full with Plesac and Civale, who have both been very good (as you pointed out). They both walk less than one batter every three innings.

I expect this series will be very close with all the games being 1 run or 2 run affairs. Our pitching is of course very bad, but because Cleveland’s lineup does not scare anyone we should have a chance…

That said, there is no reason to pitch to either Ramirez or Reyes with runners on base. You absolutely cannot let those two guys beat you. I will be very angry if either of these guys hits a big 3 run HR off of us. You pitch around those two and take your chances with everyone else.

Last edited 2 months ago by JackFrost