Cleveland Indians hurler Shane Bieber carries the weight of the Tribe offense into Game 1 against the Yankees.
The first thought that came to mind when it became clear the Cleveland Indians would play the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS: Shane Bieber’s going to have to throw a perfect game for the Tribe to have a chance.
While Bieber awaits official word on the Cy Young (and potentially, the MVP), the Yankees boast one of the game’s best starters in Gerritt Cole. And while he wasn’t as sharp as his previous two seasons, Cole was still great, going 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA with 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Indians will be tasked with plating at least one run against Cole, and while it sounds easy, don’t forget about how this lineup got at various points of the truncated 60-game season.
Lindor has to hit. In his last 15 games, he’s batting .211. For the year, he hit .258 (.750 OPS). Lindor posts a 1.7 WAR, but a +wRC of 100, which is considered average. He’s seemingly committed more base-running blunders the past two months than he has throughout his five years in an Indians uniform.
It’s also said that Franmil Reyes can get just as hot for as cold as he can get, and if that’s the case, pray for a fire because he’s freezing. Reyes is batting .180 and slugging .260 with just one homer in his last 15 games. His home run against the Pirates in the season finale was his first since Sept. 27.
Carlos Santana is the other player the Indians need production from. It’s been an unbelievably bad season for ‘Los following a career year in which he went to the All-Star game. In 2020, Santana’s been hard pressed to even be in a position to flirt with the Mendoza Line.
Jose Ramirez and and Cesar Hernandez have produced all season. The bottom of the order isn’t going to give Sandy Alomar much, and that creates even more urgency for Lindor, Reyes and Santana to play closer to their career averages.
Because of the offensive uncertainty, Bieber can be superb, and still lose. The Yankees boast the league batting champ (D.J. LeMaheiu),and HR champ (Luke Voit) and not to mention. Aaron Judge is healthy and while he only played 28 games in 2020, he managed to club nine homers.
Then there’s old friend Gio Urshela, whose body was apparently taken over by the ghost of Joe DiMaggio upon his arrival in New York. In two years with the Indians, he hit .225 (.587 OPS). The last two years with the Yankees (.310, .881 OPS).
It’s a tall order for Bieber, as any chance the Indians have of taking Game 1 reside in their star hurler’s right arm.