The Cleveland Indians officially eliminated the Kansas City Royals from repeating as Central Division champs last night and tonight they look to continue to whittle their magic number closer to zero if they can finish off the sweep at Progressive Field.
The Tribe sends rookie Mike Clevinger (2-2, 4.76) to the hill tonight. Clevinger, who makes his ninth Major League start tonight, has allowed exactly one run in each of his last four appearances although none of those appearances lasted beyond the sixth inning. Clevinger’s 2.35 ERA and 8.25 KK/9 over that stretch might give Terry Francona something to think about regarding the construction of the postseason pitching staff with another strong out tonight.
Clevinger will be opposed by KC lefthander Jason Vargas (0-0, 3.00). Vargas has just returned from a lengthy injury absence and is working on getting himself back into shape for next year’s rotation at this point.
This will be Vargas’ second start in 2016 and he has one year remaining on the 4 year/$32 million contract that he signed before the 2014 season. In 40 total starts since joining the Royals, Vargas is 16-12 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.283 WHIP. He also made three postseason starts for the Royals in 2014, including one in the World Series, which ultimately ended with a seven game loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The lefties’ presence on the mound means that Brandon Guyer will be in the starting line-up tonight, although he’ll be making just his third start in right field versus 19 starts in left field. Guyer is batting a robust .324/.429/.465 in 33 games with the Indians.
Starting line-ups are below and first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 eastern.