The Indians open a three game series in the Bronx tonight and look to build on a dominant weekend and continue to put the rest of the American League Central in their rear-view mirror.
The Tribe (73-56) humiliated the visiting Kansas City Royals over the weekend, outscoring the 2015 World Series champs by a combined score of 20-0. The series pushed the Royals below .500 and a full nine games behind the division lead with only 33 left to go.
The Yankees (70-59) trail the Red Sox in the East by just 2.5 games and own the top spot in the Wild Card by 3.5 games over Minnesota. The Yanks are 13-12 in August and have some bullpen issues to sort through.
Aroldis Chapman has temporarily been removed from the closer’s role after a four game stretch where he gave up seven runs and walked five. Chapman also took the loss in his last appearance on Friday night in an 11 inning loss to Seattle. Chapman is in the first year of a five-year deal that pays him $17.2 million per year until 2021 unless he opts out after 2019.
Dellin Betances has been the ninth inning guy for Joe Girardi since Chapman’s demotion and he’s having his own bouts of wildness this year, walking a career high 6.4 batters per nine innings. He also managed to clock Tiger’s catcher James McCann in the noggin with a 98 mph heater during a beanball war last Thursday and miraculously escaped without a suspension.
The Yankees are deep the bullpen, though, with David Robertson (2.45 ERA, 13 K/9) back in town along with Adam Warren (2.33 ERA in 54 IP), Chasen Shreve (3.06 ERA in 35.1 IP), and Chad Green (2.15 ERA in 54.1 IP).
Corey Kluber gets the start tonight. He went the distance in his only appearance against the Yankees this season back on August 3rd – 9 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 BB, 11 K’s. In 16 starts since his return from the DL, Kluber has been his old Cy Young self, throwing over seven innings per start with a 1.87 ERA, 1.5 walks per nine, and 13 K’s per nine innings.
His battle with Boston’s Chris Sale for the 2017 Cy Young is surprisingly close despite Kluber’s spell on the disabled list:
Sale: 14-6, 2.88 ERA in 178.1 IP, 0.931 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 12.8 K/9
Kluber: 12-4, 2.65 ERA in 152.2 IP, 0.910 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 12.3 K/9
The fact that the Indians have beat the snot out of Sale in his two appearances make the race even more fascinating to watch.
The Yankees will counter with Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10) tonight. The 23-year-old right hander is having the best season of his young career.
Line-ups are below and first pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET.