On Friday night in Cleveland, the Sox will begin a three-game set with the Indians, who come in at 63-62. Boston powered its way to a series win over Minnesota, slugging nine home runs across the three games. They will look to increase their 2.5 game lead over the Athletics for the second wild card spot, who have dropped eight of their last ten (and five in a row).
Game 1 (Friday, 7:10 PM ET)
Eduardo Rodriguez (9-7, 5.19 ERA) will start for the Red Sox in Game 1 of the series. Prior to his previous start, E-Rod had seemingly found his groove after struggling through most of the season. The lefthander had had a miniscule 1.12 ERA in the month of August, striking out 24 over 16.1 innings of work. However, on August 21 against the Rangers, Rodriguez imploded yet again. He surrendered five earned runs over just 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits and walking one. If the Red Sox want to hold their lead in the WC standings, they will need the rotation to be all hands on deck. Rodriguez is a crucial part of finding that consistency.
The lefty Logan Allen (1-5, 9.13 ERA) will open the series for the Indians. The 24-year-old, who debuted in 2019, has not pitched for the big-league club since July 5. In that outing, he allowed five earned runs and seven hits in 3.1 IP. The Sox will look to jump on a starter who’s given up nine homers in his 22.1 innings of work in 2021.
Game 2 (Saturday, 4:05 PM ET)
Nathan Eovaldi (10-8, 3.72 ERA) will be on the bump for Boston in Game 2. Eovaldi has had a resurgence over his last three outings, posting two quality starts with an ERA of 1.42. The righthander has enjoyed the best season of his career, as shown by his 1.17 WHIP and career-high 147 strikeouts. However, he struggled for a period of time after being named to the American League All-Star team, as shown by his 6.08 ERA from July 17 to August 6. Despite these struggles, “Nasty Nate” is evidently back at a time when the Red Sox desperately need it.
The young righthander Cal Quantrill (4-2, 3.04 ERA) will start for Cleveland. Quantrill has enjoyed a breakout month of August, going 2-0 in five starts with a dominant 1.45 ERA. In that span, he has notched 34 strikeouts in 31 innings, while allowing just one home run. From July 22 to August 11, Quantrill recorded five consecutive quality starts. In his last time out, he shut out the Angel offense for seven innings, striking out nine and allowing just two hits. This will be the Sox’ first look at one of the best rising arms in baseball.
Game 3 (Sunday, 1:10 PM ET)
Boston’s starting pitcher on Sunday is to be determined (TBD), but Tanner Houck (0-3, 3.43 ERA) will most definitely start. Despite his losing record, Houck has been effective in limited innings for Boston. He has 52 Ks on the season in just 39.1 IP
Eli Morgan (2-6, 5.98 ERA) will take the mound for Cleveland in the series finale. The rookie has allowed 63 hits in 58.2 innings on the season, totaling to a .269 opposing batting average. Boston should have no trouble scoring runs off the inexperienced righthander.
Keys to the Series
The Red Sox, who exploded for 29 runs in three games against Minnesota, will look for the bats to stay hot as they head to Cleveland. They’ve shown how streaky of a team they can be at times, but several hitters are heating up simultaneously (Verdugo, Renfroe, Dalbec, Schwarber), which can only lead to runs.
Along with the rotation, the bullpen has been inconsistent as of late. Against the Twins, the relief staff allowed nine earned runs in 14 innings of work, good for a 5.79 ERA. While that number is inflated due the implosion of Hansel Robles, the performance of the bullpen as a whole has been shaky. Matt Barnes absolutely has to find his stuff again; in a meaningless ninth inning of a 12-2 victory yesterday, the All-Star closer loaded the bases before capping off the win. The bullpen simply has to be more efficient and effective in order to protect leads.
The Red Sox also had another roster shakeup after two key players were placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.