Cleveland Indians in Midst of a Tough Stretch

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Cleveland Indians Current Offensive Struggles

Entering play on Sunday, the Cleveland Indians have now lost five consecutive games. For a small-market team that has been successful over the last handful of seasons, that is something that hasn’t happened often. Mandy Bell of MLB.com shed light on that factor on Twitter.

For the Indians, this stretch has been rough. Over those five games, Cleveland’s lineup has scored a total of 12 runs and has gone 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position (RISP). The offensive struggles have come to light more often than not this season for the Indians. There will be certain periods where the offense comes out and puts together very good at-bats. When that happens, it looks like the lineup is about to turn a corner, but then the offense starts to falter again.

In the month of September, the Indians lineup is batting .235/.295/.392 collectively as a unit. From an on-base percentage (OBP) standpoint, that puts Cleveland with the fourth-worst OBP in the American League and 25th overall in baseball. Furthermore, they have recorded 88 strikeouts and have scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball (41).

One of the keys for the Indians over these next two weeks is going to be to practice more plate discipline and work the count into their favor. If that happens, then Cleveland will improve their chances of winning the American League Central, which is still a tightly bunched three-team race with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins.

Shane Bieber Continues to Solidify AL CY Young Chances

Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber has already made history this season. However, on Friday night, he made history once again. It continued to solidify his odds of winning the American League Cy Young Award. Jason Catania of MLB.com had more on that on Twitter.

Bieber has been able to throw all five of his pitches this year with success. However, the one that has been the most effective is his curveball. On the season, he has relied on that pitch 26% of the time and held opposing hitters to a .108 batting average with it. Additionally, opposing hitters have a .162 slugging percentage when they are thrown the curve, and it has resulted in a 52.2% whiff rate.

Bieber’s usage of that pitch is up compared to last season. Last year, the right-hander threw it 20.5% of the time and had an average velocity of 82.5 mph. Fast forward to this year, and the usage is up, and his curveball is averaging a velocity of 83.5 mph.

If the playoffs were to begin today, it would be the Wild Card Round, which would be a best of three series. The Indians would square off against the Oakland Athletics. Shane Bieber would be Cleveland’s Game One starting pitcher. The Athletics received devastating news on third baseman Matt Chapman yesterday, but their most impactful hitter this season has been first baseman Matt Olson.

If Olson were to square off against Bieber on the mound, it would be an intriguing matchup. On the curveball this season, Olson is hitting .154/.267/.385. He has seen that pitch a total of 71 times and has a cumulative strikeout percentage of 33.3%. On the other hand, Athletics right fielder Stephen Piscotty has done well at the plate against curveballs. Piscotty has a .357/.357/.929 slash line with a .429 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) in the 65 curveballs he has seen this season.

Final Thoughts

At the start of Sunday, the Indians sat three-and-a-half games back of first place in the American League Central. If the team wants to win the division, then the offense needs to get clicking sooner rather than later. Cleveland is set from a pitching standpoint. Now, it is up to the offense to start putting together effective at-bats and find any way possible to get on base.

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