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Red Sox vs. Cleveland Series Preview

Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Covering The Corner

The Opponent in one sentence

An organization lost in the desert, they’ve traded away the key parts of a core and it’s left them in the position of being good in a bad division but not good enough to make the playoffs.

Record

67-64

Head-to-Head Record

2-1

Trend

Up! Four wins in a row and 7-3 in their last ten is only costing them draft slotting since they’re so far out of the wild card, but I’m sure the players are happy!

Pitching Matchups

9/3: Cal Quantrill vs. Nathan Eovaldi, 7:10 PM ET

Quantrill is an old school sinker/slider guy. He shifted from the bullpen to the rotation full-time in mid-June and has crushed it with a 2.82 ERA in 83 innings. His last start against the Sox saw him run into some trouble in the first inning, including a mammoth tank shot to Kyle Schwarber, but survived seven innings without giving up any more runs. The sinker, slider, and four-seam make up 81.8% of Quantril’s pitch mix. Quantrill keeps his sinker where it needs to be, to his armside, and the slider glove side and in the dirt.

Eovaldi has gone 55 batters without walking one. While he’s giving up homers at a more human-like rate, he still leads baseball in HR/9. Eovaldi was yanked shortly after getting into the middle of the lineup for the 3rd time, but with the current state of the bullpen a 7 inning outing like he had in Texas would be welcome, especially considering who’s following him the next day.

9/4: Eli Morgan vs. Tanner Houck, 4:10 PM ET

Eli Morgan is a soft-tossing right hander with a slider and changeup to go with his 90.5 MPH cheddar. The rookie shows the ability to throw the ball in the zone, but he hasn’t figured out how to keep the ball in the yard. He’s remarkably boring but I dig guys that sit 90.

I love Tanner Houck. He’s been really good this year! But it’s clear he can’t turn over a lineup a third time. A creative team can get the most out of a guy like this and maybe the Sox get creative with him next year. I think it’d be cool if he turned over a lineup twice before handing the ball to Garrett Whitlock so he could do the same. Houck had a no-hitter going through 5.1 innings his last time out but as soon as he faced the lineup for the third time he was teed off on. Someone should be warming up behind him when Straw steps up for the third time and he should be yanked unless there’s a significant lead.

9/5: Zach Plesac vs. Nick Pivetta, 1:10 PM ET (TBS for out-of-market)

After a dominant showing during the pandemic season, Plesac has come crashing back down to Earth. His strikeout rate fell by over 10% and his ERA has nearly doubled. He still shows an uncanny ability to throw pitches in the zone, which you have to do if you aren’t going to strike anybody out, but it hasn’t been enough for Plesac to duplicate the results he had last year.

I wish I could reference Pivetta being one of the most high-variance pitchers in baseball, but he’s given up four runs in his last three starts. Finally a bit of consistency from Nick. I thought about writing an “I was wrong about Nick Pivetta” take after his no-hit bid back in June. I’m glad I didn’t, but not because I’m suddenly right. I still don’t know. I mean, I still don’t think he’s some secret ace or anything but 160 innings of league-average pitching was something I didn’t know Pivetta had in him and if he can finish the season with that line, it’s a big win for this organization. Cleveland’s offense isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, so this may be a good chance for him to get back on track.

Old Friends

None

Notable Position Players

Myles Straw was dealt from the Astros at the deadline for Louisiana Tech alum Phil Maton. Since then he’s been an everyday leadoff man and center fielder. The power is miniscule, but he’s a sparkplug at the top of the lineup.

Amed Rosario doesn’t look like he’ll ever hit the ceiling he showed in the minors but is an acceptable hitter for the positions he’ll play: shortstop and center field. The issue is whether he can play either of those positions adequately enough.

José Ramírez is having another great year with the stick and remains one of the most underrated players in baseball. Since 2017, he’s 18th among qualified hitters in wRC+ with a 138 mark and he’s around that same range this year with a 134 wRC+. I imagine he’ll be traded soon.

Franmil Reyes would probably have 40 home runs if he had not sustained an abdominal strain in late-May. He’s locked in at DH and strikes out 30% of the time but the massive power makes him a quality player.

Bradley Zimmer’s power/speed combination has never clicked at the Major League level in large part because he never answered the questions about his hit tool. Zimmer has struck out in nearly a third of his Major League PA’s. His surface level line is good this year, .249/.356/.367, but a .389 BABIP with little power and a 35% strikeout rate isn’t sustainable.

Harold Ramirez is a former top 100 prospect who was claimed off waivers after the Marlins cut him in late February. He’s been exactly as prescribed: a replacement level player. Daniel Johnson and Oscar Mercado could also see time in left field.

Bobby Bradley is only 25 years old somehow and is not that dissimilar from our own Bobby Dalbec except that Bradley walks significantly more. Both are massive power bats stuck at first base with huge hit tool questions and swing and miss to go with it. Bradley has prodigious power but if you’re striking out 35% of the time and hitting only .210 with bad defense that power is only going to take you so far.

Austin Hedges can’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag but he’s arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball. He’ll have a job in the Majors for as long as he can catch, much like Jeff Mathis.

Andrés Giménez has struggled to adapt to Major League pitching. He isn’t a stomp and lift guy anymore, which was a strange change to his swing while he was with the Mets because he didn’t have enormous raw power that was ripe to be tapped into like a Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson, or José Bautista. He’s a good defensive shortstop but he’s locked in at second while his long-time teammate Amed Rosario fumbles at the 6.

Bullpen Snapshot

Emmanuel Clase is pure filth and one of the best relievers in baseball. He throws a 100 MPH cutter and is at the top of the league in virtually every advanced Statcast metric.

Nick Wittgren has gotten thwacked around the yard this year. It’s a pedestrian four-seamer that he’s started throwing less in favor of a cutter that he started throwing in June.

Bryan Shaw is back! After 3 years is misery away from Cleveland, Shaw is back and posting vintage Bryan Shaw numbers plus a few walks. He throws a ton of cutters and dabbles with a slider.

Injuries

Roberto Pérez has been on the IL for a month with shoulder inflammation but started a rehab assignment on Tuesday. I could not find a timetable for when his rehab assignment would be up but he could be back for this series.

Wilson Ramos blew out his ACL the other day fielding a bunt. He’s out for the remainder of the season.

Ernie Clement was placed on the 10-day IL with a classic case of “undisclosed injury.” Get the shot!

Josh Naylor broke his fibula in an outfield collision back in June and is recovering from surgery.

Shane Bieber has missed most of the year with a shoulder strain. He threw a bullpen last Friday as he attempts to come back before the end of the year.

Aaron Civale sprained his finger back in late June and is in the middle of a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron

Nick Sandlin was placed on the 10-day IL with a right shoulder strain last month. There is no timetable for his return.

Weather Forecast

Friday and Saturday are scheduled for clear skies in the 60’s and 70’s while there is a chance of showers on Sunday.