Wednesday marks the third of a four-game set from Globe Life Park in Arlington between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers. Both teams are in the heat of a Wild Card race with little to no chance at winning their respective divisions. Don’t tell that to them, however, as both teams have started to turn up the heat to kick off summer and the month of June. The Rangers are 11-7 so far in June, while the Indians are 10-5.
For the Indians, Adam Plutko will take the hill for his fifth start of the season. So far in 2019, Plutko is 3-1 with a 4.63 ERA. He has been terrific in three of his four starts this season. If you take away his one bad start against the Rays, he has gone six innings in every start, giving up a combined five runs. The one thing that Plutko has working against him, however, is his aptitude for giving up the long ball. He has given up eight home runs in his four starts thus far. His HR/FB% is an outrageous 22.2%.
Also, he doesn’t strike out many batters. A fastball in the low 90s, and a below average changeup, slider, and curveball, and it is kind of surprising how well he has done so far in 2019. The culprit? An insanely low BABIP against. League average for batting average on balls in play is around .300. Plutko is currently at .206. When that goes back to the mean, his ERA will start to look like his FIP, which is more than two runs higher.
For the Texas Rangers, rookie Joe Palumbo will take the hill for his second start in a row. In his first major league start, he went four innings and gave up four runs in a game the Rangers ended up winning against Oakland.
The Rangers’ No. 7 overall prospect, according to MLB.com, has risen quickly through the minor leagues. Just last year he started the season in rookie ball. He quickly was elevated to High-A ball and then Double-A all in one season. So far this season in Double-A, he started 10 games, and funny enough, didn’t record any decisions. However, he has a 3.19 ERA and a K/9 of 11.57.
Speaking of strikeouts, his strikeout numbers in the minors are absolutely nuts. His K% in Double-A during the 2018 season was 27% and rose to 30% in 2019. His fastball can touch 96, and he features a good curveball as well as mixing in a changeup.
Batter To Watch
Baseball is fun to watch again for Indians fans, thanks to Francisco Lindor getting back to playing like himself. Lindor has a hit in 16 of his last 19 games, including five home runs. Lindor has a tough task with Palumbo however, as Lindor is struggling with left-handed pitching this season.
While Plutko’s numbers say he is due for regression, that is yet to be seen. Even though both pitchers are young, Plutko has more of a track record to go by. Take the Indians.