Cleveland has seized control of its destiny after taking control of the Wild Card race in the American League. Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Tribe have moved within three games of the division-leading Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. Can the Indians stay hot as they close out their series in Toronto on Wednesday night?
Bieber hoping to rebound vs. Blue Jays
The Tribe are scheduled to turn to right-hander Shane Bieber on Wednesday as they get set to close out their series in Toronto. Bieber has been a valuable member of the Indians’ rotation in 2019, going 9-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). He’s more than doubled his WAR (2.3) compared to last season (1.0) in a comparable amount of service time, and perhaps more importantly for the Indians, his strikeout rate has sky-rocketed to a healthy 11.29 batters per nine innings of work. If it stands, that number would be by far the highest rate of his professional career and he carries strong peripherals as well. Bieber’s xFIP (3.14) is more than a half-run lower than his current ERA and he’s done it by throwing more off-speed stuff in 2019. Last season, Bieber relied on his fastball, throwing it 57.3 percent of the time. That number is down to 45.2 percent in 2019 and he’s increased the frequency of all three of his breaking balls to help keep hitters off-balance.
Someone broke open the ice block Jose Ramirez was trapped in for three months, and now the rest of the league is going to pay.pic.twitter.com/6LNhIwKbAQ
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) July 19, 2019
Bieber, who was the All-Star Game MVP, was excellent in his only start of the season versus the Blue Jays. He limited Toronto to two earned runs on two hits, while striking out nine Blue Jays’ hitters in six innings of work on April 5. He tossed 6 ⅓ frames of four-run ball (three earned) in his only other career start against them last season.
Wednesday could be Stroman’s last start in Toronto
With the trade deadline right around the corner, Wednesday’s start could end up being Stroman’s final outing in a Blue Jays’ uniform. Toronto is expected to deal the right-hander to a contending team before the July 31 deadline and the Yankees are among the teams interested in the Blue Jays’ ace. Stroman enters with a 6-10 overall record to go along with a stellar 3.06 ERA and he was stellar in his last outing versus the Detroit Tigers. He turned in his second straight quality start, shutting out the Tigers over seven innings of work, striking out five batters and allowing just six hits on the night.
Marcus Stroman, Trash-Talking Mike Trout with Positive Affirmations. pic.twitter.com/dnzs5K9OLE
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 19, 2019
Stroman’s only start versus the Tribe, he pitched well despite being saddled with the loss. He tossed six innings of three-run ball in a 3-1 loss on April 7. That’s been the case for Stroman against the Indians over the past three-plus seasons, as he went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous five starts against Cleveland dating back to the 2016 season. According to Baseball Savant, Indians’ hitters are batting .255 in 112 plate appearances off the Blue Jays’ ace coming into this game.
- Indians are 7-1 in Bieber’s last 8 starts vs. American League East.
- Indians are 12-3 in Bieber’s last 15 road starts.
- Indians are 20-8 in Bieber’s last 28 starts.
- Blue Jays are 12-32 in their last 44 Wednesday games.
- Blue Jays are 7-20 in their last 27 during game 3 of a series.
- Blue Jays are 1-4 in their last 5 home games