The Houston Astros come to town and the surging Cleveland Indians will have quite the test to see just where they stand with the best teams in baseball.
The Cleveland Indians have the best record in baseball dating back in the month of July (17-5). Now the criticism that many have had with that they have faced some sub-par competition. Kansas City, Cincinnati, Detroit and Toronto are hardly world beaters. The only above .500 team they have faced is Minnesota and the Tribe dropped two out of three to start the second half. While it is easy to criticize the level of competition, the best teams in baseball always beat up on weaker competition and at worst keep things even with the best in the league. Cleveland has a chance to do that starting Tuesday at home against Houston.
The Indians have been getting quite the boost from Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. Ramirez has homered in four straight games and has collected seven extra-base hits in the last seven games. Lindor has five extra-base hits over the same span, two home runs, two doubles and one triple. Oscar Mercado has also put on a show at the plate, slashing .313/.333/.531 with an OPS of .865. This includes his four hit performance in Saturday’s 9-1 victory over Kansas City. Mercado has four extra-base hits over the past seven games, two doubles, one triple and one home run.
Shane Bieber is the only Indians pitcher with a track record against Houston
Shane Bieber will be the Indians best starter against Houston. Bieber is starting Game 1 and will look to build upon his last start that saw him striking out 10 batters in a one-hit complete game shutout in Toronto. The Astros as a team have a slash line of .167/.286/.333/.619 against Bieber over 24 at-bats. Hopefully Bieber will be able to continue his previous success against Houston and get Cleveland back into the win column as they continue chase Minnesota in the division.
Adam Plutko takes the hill for Game 2 and does not have a past against Houston. The only player on the Astros roster who has faced him previously is Aledmys Diaz who did so while with Toronto. Diaz is 3-5 with one home run and one double. Plutko will need to limit the damage and keep the ball in the yard in order to come out victorious against Houston.
Zach Plesac will start Game 3 and he has never faced Houston before. The Indians have won four consecutive games that Plesac has started and he has only allowed six runs over 18.2 innings in that span. Plesac is on a roll but a team like Houston is more than capable of scoring runs early and often.