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Know Your Enemy: Cleveland No Names

Because Cleveland took forever to change their name, I can take as long as I want to recognize it


Last time

José Abreu was plunked in the helmet in the first game of the series, and Tony La Russa boot-scooted his way into a legendary gif.

It was not something intentional (wink), but James Karinchak didn’t have his command that day, which is just a scary thing in general for the batters to face. But sure, call a pitch up and in, Roberto Pérez. And sticky stuff was the big deal because of something about batter safety, right? Anyway, Yoán Moncada hit a weird home run, and Ryan Tepera almost ruined things for the White Sox, but they pulled it out in the end.

The next game was notable for Seby Zavala and his three home runs (including a grand slam), becoming the first player in big league history to hit his first three career home runs in the same game. It was also just his 18th game in the majors. Brian Goodwin and Adam Engel also homered in the high-scoring game. Unfortunately, Cleveland won after scoring nine unanswered runs in three straight innings. Neither Tristan McKenzie nor Dallas Keuchel had a particularly good start that day, McKenzie giving up six runs over four innings and Keuchel giving up five runs in 5 13 innings.

The White Sox took the close of the series with a walk-off home run from Brian Goodwin and that extended the lead over Cleveland in the AL Central to nine games. KICK ROCKS, HO!

How it’s going

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the 2021 Cleveland team made MLB history by becoming the first in history to be no-hit three times in a single season, and the first came way back in April, by Carlos Rodón. Somehow, it’s made even better by the fact that Zach Plesac started all three no-hitters for Cleveland.

The White Sox are coming in with the third-best record in the AL and with a magic number of three. However, September has not been kind to the White Sox who are holding a 8-10 record and have dropped five of their last seven. The slump has also all but killed their chances of hosting Houston in the first round of the ALDS. Cleveland is the only second-place team in baseball worse than .500, posting a 74-76 record. They’re also 10 12 back from the White Sox, who despite having a crappy September are still running away with the AL Central title.

Amed Rosario and Ramírez are the batting leaders for Cleveland, Rosario leading in batting average (.279) and hits (144) while Ramírez is leading in home runs (35), RBIs (96), and OBP (.357). Unfortunately for Cleveland, Rosario has been out, on the COVID-19 list (but may be activated during this series). Aaron Civale is leading the pitching staff in wins (11), and Shane Bieber has been on the IL for 60 days with a shoulder issue but will be activated on Friday to face the White Sox.

Pitching matchups

Game 1 today is going to be Reynaldo López vs. Civale. López is getting the start today after being rained out yesterday. Civale is 11-4 this season over 111 13 innings, posting a 3.40 ERA and striking out 89 while walking 27. In his last seven starts, he’s 4-2 over 37 13 innings with a 3.62 ERA. Against the White Sox Civale is 3-2 over 28 13 innings. Civale has six pitches in his arsenal: 4-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, slider, split, and curveball. He was nursing an injury post All-Star break, going 0-2 and posting a 7.04 ERA (Civale was activated from the IL at the start of September).

Game 2 today will see TBD vs. Zach Plesac. Plesac is 10-6 this season over 131 13 innings with a 4.59 ERA. In his last seven starts, he’s 4-2 with a 4.07 ERA and he’s 2-2 in his last five starts against the White Sox, posting a 6.00 ERA over 24 innings. Plesac has four pitches: 4-seam fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball. He’s stayed pretty consistent since the All-Star break with a 4.85 ERA, and faring slightly better against lefties (4.07) than righties (5.02).

Friday will be Dylan Cease vs. Bieber in his first game since being on the IL with shoulder issues. Cease is 12-7 this season with a 4.09 ERA over 156 13 innings. He’s struck out 212 while walking 66. In his last seven starts, Cease is 3-1 over 36 23 innings with a 4.42 ERA. Against Cleveland, he’s 1-2 with a 7.27 ERA over 17 13 innings. Cleveland has always seen Cease well, so he’s going to need to have his best control on Friday, especially considering he’s facing off against an ace. Bieber hasn’t had a start since June 13, so it’s been awhile for him for sure. Against the White Sox he’s 3-0 in his last five starts, posting a 2.18 ERA and striking out 47 while walking nine and allowing two home runs. Bieber relies on five pitches: 4-seam fastball, slider, changeup, cutter, and curveball. Before the All-Star break, he was 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA.

Saturday is going to be Lance Lynn facing off against Eli Morgan. In his last seven starts, Lynn is 0-2 over 37 13 innings with a 3.62 ERA. In his career so far against Cleveland he’s 2-2 over 30 innings with a 3.00 ERA. Overall for 2021, Lynn is 10-5 with a 2.47 ERA over 146 innings, striking out 166 and walking 44 while allowing 112 hits and 40 earned runs. Morgan debuted on May 28 and has a 3-7 record so far this season, going 77 23 innings with a 5.68 ERA. He’s 2-3 in his last seven, most recently getting a win against the Yankees. Morgan relies on five pitches: 4-seam fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, and cutter. Righties have been a problem for him, running up a 6.32 ERA against him as opposed to his 4.70 ERA against lefties.

Sunday will be Lucas Giolito vs. McKenzie for the close. Giolito is 10-9 this season with a 3.70 ERA. In his last seven starts, he’s 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA and he’s 0-1 in his last five against Cleveland (oof) with four no-decisions and one loss. McKenzie is 5-7 this season, and 4-2 in his last seven starts. He’s 0-1 against the White Sox and is Seby Zavala’s favorite pitcher, by far. McKenzie relies on four pitches: 4-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup.

Why we still hate them

Do we need a reason?