The Cleveland Indians play the New York Yankees in the final game of the weekend series in a game that can massive implications on the Wild Card Race in the American League. The Indians have a 72-74 record but the Yankees have an 83-66 record and are only a few games behind in the American League Wild Card race. For the final game of the series, Cleveland will turn to Eli Morgan as their starting pitcher while the Yankees will turn to Gerrit Cole to start the game.
Cleveland hope Morgan can help out offenseThe Indians are having a season to forget as they look unlikely to make the playoffs with a sub .500 record late in the season. One of the reasons for the team's struggles has been the backend of the rotation, with Eli Morgan having a bad season, allowing 49 runs in 15 starts. Moreover, Morgan is allowing hard contact at will with a .252 expected opponent Batting Average, a .490 expected opponent Slugging Percentage, and a 5.23 expected ERA.
In addition to the back half of the pitching rotation struggling, the offense is having a disappointing season, scoring 4.36 runs per game. Jose Ramirez is having a great season with 34 home runs, a .349 On-Base Percentage, and a .538 Slugging Percentage while Franmil Reyes is adding 30 home runs but the rest of the lineup has struggled. Only three active batters in the lineup have 10 home runs or while only two batters in the lineup have an OPS+ of 100 or higher, allowing opposing pitchers to dominate against the back half of the order.
Yankees turn to their ace in Cole for final series matchupThe Yankees are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in and will need a late-season push to earn a Wild Card spot. The hope is that Gerrit Cole can lead the way as Cole has been a Cy Young candidate allowing only 54 runs in 27 starts while tossing 224 strikeouts. Moreover, Cole is allowing little to no contact off the bat with a .199 expected opponent Batting Average, a .341 expected opponent Slugging Percentage, and a 2.87 expected ERA.
Back-to-Back Blasts. pic.twitter.com/ObgG1oU9Eb— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 18, 2021
The hope is that Cole can have a great start considering how the offense has struggled this season, scoring only 4.36 runs per game. Aaron Judge is having a great season with 35 home runs, a .288 Batting Average, a .372 On-Base Percentage, and a .539 Slugging Percentage, while Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez have combined for 50 home runs this season but the back half of the lineup has let the team down. Only five batters in the lineup have 150 total bases or more while only three batters in the lineup have an OPS+ of 100 or higher.