Breaking Down the Red Sox vs Indians Series: Who Has The Edge?
ALDS: Red Sox vs Indians (Best of 5)
Game 1: Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.15) vs. Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26)
Game 2: David Price (17-9, 3.99) vs. Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14)
Game 3: Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40) vs. Clay Buchholz (8-10, 4.78)
Two of the most balanced and consistent teams in the American League meet up in the ALDS. The Indians are dealing with injuries, specifically to their pitching staff which could be a huge factor in this series. If healthy, Cleveland could make the case for American League favorites. But those injuries are real and as a team you have to overcome adversity. Below MFST will break down the two teams at every position and predict who will come out on top.
Red Sox: Sandy Leon (.310, 7 HR, 35 RBI)
Indians: Yan Gomes (.167, 9 HR, 34 RBI)/ Roberto Perez (.183, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
What to Know: If Sandy Leon had not run completely out of steam in the last month — just three extra-base hits, all doubles, and a .213 batting average — it would have been so much easier to give the edge to the Red Sox here. But Leon’s dropoff has leveled the playing field. Yan Gomes, returned for the final game of the season after suffering a separated shoulder and then a broken hand, hitting a two-run home run in his return. It remains to be seen how the Indians utilize their catchers (they are carrying 3 on the ALDS roster) but if Gomes is fully healthy he has the edge over Leon. I’m just not sure if he is there yet.
Red Sox: 1B Hanley Ramirez (.286, 30 HR, 111 RBI), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.318, 15 HR, 74 RBI), SS Xander Bogaerts (.294, 21 HR, 89 RBI), 3B Brock Holt (.255, 7 HR, 34 RBI)
Indians: 1B Mike Napoli (.239, 34 HR, 101 RBI), 2B Justin Kipnis (.275, 23 HR, 82 RBI), SS Francisco Lindor (.301, 15 HR, 78 RBI), 3B Jose Ramirez (.312, 11 HR, 76 RBI)
What to Know: The Indians possess as solid an infield, both defensively and offensively, that there is in the majors. Napoli has faded lately, but he has had a career comeback, and Boston knows how good he is on the corner. Han-Ram is a better hitter than Napoli, but is nowhere near the same in the field. Kipnis and Pedroia are very similar players and offer the same amount of value to their respective teams. Red Sox fans love their superstar SS Xander Bogaerts and rightfully so, but the small-market Indians boast a better superstar. Get ready for an eyeful of Lindor, a year younger than Bogaerts, who exploded upon the scene this season. He’s got a better glove and speed (19 steals) than Bogaerts, plus he finished with a higher fWAR (6.3 vs. 4.9). Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez gets no attention, but he finished with 22 steals and a .363 on-base percentage. The Red Sox do not have a comparable third baseman.
Red Sox: LF Andrew Benintendi (.295, 2 HR, 14 RBI), CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.267, 26 HR, 87 RBI), RF Mookie Betts (.318, 31 HR, 113 RBI)
Indians: LF Rajai Davis (.249, 12 HR, 48 RBI), CF Tyler Naquin (.296, 14 HR, 43 RBI), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.286, 8 HR, 57 RBI)
What to Know: Two of the Red Sox outfielder’s (Bradley Jr. and Betts) are the top two between both teams, both defensively and offensively. Betts (7.7) and Bradley (4.9) finished second and fourth in the league among all outfielders in fWAR, and can utilize their speed on the base paths. The sleeper out of this entire outfield group is Rajai Davis, who recorded 43 stolen bases this season to help ignite the Indians’ running game. If he can do that in this series that would be a huge boost to the Indians offense.
Edge: Red Sox
Red Sox: David Ortiz (.315, 38 HR, 127 RBI)
Indians: Carlos Santana (.259, 34 HR, 87 RBI)
What to Know: Don’t get it twisted, the Indians have a stellar duo at DH/1B between Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli, both of whom hit 34 HR’s this season. But that does not compare to David Ortiz who is ending his career with a bang. As long as he gets enough rest, Ortiz holds the edge.
Edge: Red Sox
Red Sox: Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.15 ERA), David Price (17-9, 3.99 ERA), Clay Buchholz (8-10, 4.78 ERA), Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.71 ERA)
Indians: Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA), Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ER), Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA)
What to Know: If the Indians had their full complement of players they would have the edge hands-down, but due to injuries this race is a little more foggy. Porcello has had a career year for the Red Sox and could very well end up with the Cy-Young award in a month, but he owns a 4.41 ERA and zero wins in his postseason career. Add that to David Price who has a career 2-7 record with a 5.12 ERA in the postseason and the Red Sox two best pitchers have proven they do not perform in the playoffs. The third is Clay Buchholz who has had an unbelievably inconsistent season where he went from rotation to bullpen seemingly every month. Despite their injuries, the Indians starting staff has the edge.
Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel (2-6, 3.40 ERA, 31 saves), Koji Uehara (2-3, 3.45 ERA), Joe Kelly (4-0, 5.18 ERA), Drew Pomeranz (11-12, 3.32 ERA), Robbie Ross Jr. (3-2, 3.25 ERA), Matt Barnes (4-3, 4.05 ERA), Brad Ziegler (2-4, 1.52 ERA)
Indians: Cody Allen (3-5, 2.51 ERA, 32 saves), Andrew Miller (10-1, 1.45 ERA, 12 saves), Bryan Shaw (2-5, 3.24 ERA), Dan Otero (5-1, 1.53 ERA), Mike Clevinger (3-3, 5.26 ERA), Cody Anderson (2-5, 6.68 ERA), Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.44 ERA), Jeff Manship (2-1, 3.12 ERA)
What to Know: The Indians have more reliable options than the Red Sox do, plus they have something the Red Sox do not: A legitimate lethal weapon in Andrew Miller, whom Indians manager Terry Francona is willing to deploy at any moment. Kimbrel can be dominant at times, but he struggles with control issues and is nowhere near the player he once was.
Red Sox: C Christian Vazquez (.227, 1 HR, 12 RBI), OF Chris Young (.276, 9 HR, 24 RBI), IF Travis Shaw (.242, 16 HR, 71 RBI), IF Aaron Hill (.262, 10 HR, 38 RBI), IF Marco Hernandez (.294, 1 HR, 5 RBI)
Indians: C Chris Gimenez (.216, 4 HR, 11 RBI), C/PH Yan Gomes (.167, 9 HR, 34 RBI), OF Coco Crisp (.231, 13 HR, 55 RBI), OF Brandon Guyer (.266, 9 HR, 32 RBI), IF Michael Martinez (.238, 1 HR, 4 RBI)
What to Know: Both teams benches offer up a mix of veteran leaders and younger players getting their first taste of postseason action. Chris Young is the most dangerous of the group and he can hit Andrew Miller, 3-for-9, two doubles and one triple. Pinch-hitting and pinch-running will be a key intangible of this series, but at this time there is not a distinct edge on either side.
Red Sox: John Farrell
Indians: Terry Francona
What to Know: Boston fans know how good and important Francona is to his team. He was able to squeeze the best from a roster whose sum exceeded the value of its parts.While leading the Red Sox to the top of the AL East, Farrell endured his fair share of criticism for perceived abuses of reliever usage and seldom received credit for lineup juggling, a high-performing, aggressive offense, and a pitching staff that saw its share of turnarounds. Francona has him by one ring and a lot more October experience.
PREDICTION: This will be an intense series and the winner could very well end up in the World Series. Pitching matters more than offense in the post-season and I see that being the deciding factor in this series. The Indians win in 5 games due to a better starting rotation and a much better bullpen.
Indians in 5 games.
Dan Schalk covers MLB for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @FFSportsTalk