The Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers will wrap up their series here on Sunday afternoon. Young stud Shane Bieber will start for Cleveland, while the Brewers will send out Brett Anderson to the mound. Oddsmakers understandably have Cleveland has a sizable favorite due to Bieber for this one, which will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
Brewers Up And DownThe Milwaukee Brewers were hoping to compete for a championship in 2020, and while they certainly haven't been terrible they haven't been very good either. They've been up and down the whole way, entering Saturday at 18-19. They haven't really had many streaks one way or the other, playing pretty much .500 ball the entire time. Thanks to the expanded postseason format they're still very much alive in the playoff hunt, but every game is of massive importance to them from here on out. For this crucial nationally televised match they will turn to Brett Anderson on the mound, who has also been mediocre this season.
He enters with a 4.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, which are both very close to his career numbers, so that's about what you can expect from him. What's a little eyebrow-raising is that he hasn't exactly faced a murderers row of opposing lineups through six games. In his most recent start he got hit hard by the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up four earned runs and nine hits in five innings. Former MVP Christian Yelich got off to an extremely slow start and hasn't looked like himself, as he is hitting only .198 on the season. They signed slugger Justin Smoak to play first base this offseason, but he was so bad that they already have DFA'd him after he played only 33 games. That move reeked of desperation, and they rank 26th in the league in team OPS.
Indians Have Ace On The MoundIt is hard to argue with what the Cleveland Indians have done so far this season, as they entered Saturday at 23-15 and are destined for a playoff spot. That being said they've done it in an unconventional fashion, as the offense struggled mightily to start the year while the pitching staff carried them. The pitching has been truly unbelievable this season, as they have allowed only 112 runs total, by far the fewest of any team that has played anywhere near the same amount of games. One of the guys most responsible for that dominance is Shane Bieber, the 25-year old who will start here.
He made major strides last season so it isn't surprising that he is completely breaking out this year, as he enters with a 1.20 ERA through eight starts. In five of those eight outings, he has given up zero runs, and he has at least eight strikeouts in every start. In total, he has a ridiculous 84 punch outs through 52 and 2/3 innings. He has looked like the best pitcher in the league so far, and I don't see any reason to believe he would slow down here. The offense was in a huge slump to start the year but they have started to turn it on recently, as normally reliable guys like Francisco Lindor start to get their act together. After an abysmal start to the year, Lindor has now hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games.