The Yankees head to Cleveland on the heels of their first series loss in a month, and are looking to regain separation in the AL East. They’ll look to do it against a team that is on the wrong side of some serious separation in the AL Central.
Cleveland has hovered around the .500 mark for much of the season, and is lingering far behind the first place Twins in the division race. The team has faced plenty of issues that come with the territory of not exactly trying to get better in the offseason, so we’ll see if the Yanks can take advantage of that. Having Didi Gregorius back should help! He has fond memories of hitting in Cleveland.
*runs back to YouTube to watch 2017 ALDS highlights*
Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend series at Progressive Field:
Game One: Domingo German vs. Zach Plesac
German hasn’t looked like his early-season self of late, to say the least. After getting bombed for four home runs against the Royals, the righty allowed six hits and three earned runs over 3.2 innings against Boston over the weekend. That marked the third start in a row that he hasn’t made it past the fifth inning. He hasn’t allowed a home run agains the current Cleveland roster, which holds an .816 OPS against German. It was against this Cleveland team that German pitched six no-hit innings last year during his first major league start.
Cleveland called up Plesac in late May while their IL list continued to grow (a list that includes names like Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Danny Salazar), and Plesac has been great in his small sample size thus far. The 24-year-old has allowed two earned runs in 12.1 innings so far, and most recently turned in seven innings of one-run ball against the White Sox, while racking up seven strikeouts. This will be his first time facing the Yankees in his very young career.
Game Two: CC Sabathia vs. Adam Plutko
Save for a pair of mistakes that resulted in solo home runs, Sabathia was very solid in his first start back from his annual knee treatment. The big lefty tossed six innings and allowed three runs, while striking out a season-high eight batters after setting his season-high at seven the start before he landed on the IL. However, the current Cleveland roster has given him issues in the past, posting a 1.060 OPS led by Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana, who have combined for 16 hits in 31 at-bats, with one home run apiece.
Plutko is another plug for a decimated Cleveland rotation, having thrown two games this year, one awful and one good. He tossed six innings of one-run ball against the hapless Orioles in his first appearance of the year, then was tagged for seven earned runs in 5.1 innings against the Rays on May 23, an outing that included four dingers. Safe to say the Yankees hope for the latter outing in game two.
Game Three: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Shane Bieber
Tanaka was cruising in his last start against Toronto, until he wasn’t. He wound up with four earned runs to his credit for the second start in a row after a stretch of four outings where he looked absolutely dominant. He still holds a solid 3.42 ERA this season, and will look to get back to his dominant ways against Cleveland, which holds an .816 OPS against him. The biggest tormentor has been Ramirez, who is 6-for-11 against Tanaka, though this year hasn’t been nearly the same Ramirez we’ve been used to watching over the years.
Bieber is coming off one of his best starts of the season, having held the Twins to just two runs over seven innings while striking out seven. Granted, the two runs were of the home run variety, but hey, everyone seems to give up home runs to the Twins nowadays.
Bieber hosts a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts this season, and has very limited experience against the current Yankees roster, though he’s been tough on them in limited at-bats, holding the Bombers to just two hits in 17 at-bats. Given those two hits were off the bats of Greg Bird and Miguel Andujar, the 2019 Yanks really have zero hits against Bieber.