AL Central Showdown: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins

Ryan K

At this point, the Cleveland Indians are pretty much a lock to make the playoffs. At 9 games ahead of the second place Minnesota Twins, their lead was already pretty comfortable, but given the fact that the Twins have decided to sell at the trade deadline (having already traded Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly), the division is pretty much as good as sealed up for the Indians. The two will meet to start a three game series on Monday when the Indians (57-47) will travel to Target Field to take on the Twins (48-56). For the Indians, Shane Bieber will take the mound (5-2, 4.80 ERA) to face off with the Twins’ Ervin Santana (0-0, 5.40 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.

The moneyline for Sunday’s game is set at the Cleveland Indians -127 and theMinnesota Twins +117. The over/under for runs scored is set at 9.5.

Indians Not Satisfied Just Winning The Division

Even though they may already have the division in hand, the Indians don’t want to just make it to the playoffs, they want to compete in a WorldSeries. This was made even more clear with their trade for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. With an already solid offense and starting rotation, the addition of these two helped to fortify what was a struggling bullpen. If they can get Andrew Miller healthy again and Cody Allen straightened out, they could be a scary matchup for anyone in October.

Trying to take care of business Monday will be ShaneBieber. On the season, he is 5-2 with a 4.80 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and opponents are hitting an eye-opening .310 against him. In 45 innings he has 44 strikeouts but only 8 walks. He was especially bad in his last start against the Pirates, a 9-4 loss. He went 1.2 innings, giving up 7 earned runs and striking out a pair. He will look to bounce back on Monday.

There are a few Indians players who have been especially successful against Ervin Santana in their careers. Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .350 in 20 at bats, with 3 home runs and 6 runs batted in. Melky Cabrera is hitting .429 in 28 at bats with a homer and 5 runs batted in. Jose Ramirez has also had success, hitting .458 in 24 at bats with 7 runs batted in. Those are three to keep an eye on in Monday’s contest.

Twins Rebuild May Leave Questions On The Field

With both Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly already traded, the Twins are evaluating whether they want to trade other assets such as Kyle Gibson or Brian Dozier. With all of the uncertainty, the next day or so will be pretty interesting both on and off the field for the Twins. While the organization might be retooling, Ervin Santana will be looking for something positive on the mound Monday. After having surgery on his finger in February, Santana made his first start of the season last Wednesday. In the start against the Blue Jays, he went 5 innings, giving up 3 earned runs and striking out 5. He will be looking to build on this against the Indians Monday.

Offensively, Eddie Rosario has probably been the most consistent hitter for the Twins this season. He is currently hitting .305/.348/.513 with a .861 OPS. He has 19 home runs, 64 runs batted in and has scored 69 runs (he leads the team in all three of those categories). One of the problems for the Twins, though, is there isn’t a whole lot of support around him, especially with Escobar having been traded.

Indians Take Game One

I don’t love the starting pitchers on either side in this one. Bieber has been very inconsistent and Santana is still trying to shake some rust off. With that in mind, I go to who has the better offense and better relief and for me that is Cleveland. With the combination of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, I will take the Indians’ lineup all day long over the Twins. I expect runs to be put up on both sides in this one, but I am taking the Indians at -127.