The current ace of the Cleveland Indians faces a former one in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday as Corey Kluber gets the start opposite CC Sabathia and the visiting New York Yankees. Kluber, a prime candidate to pick up his second career AL Cy Young Award after leading the majors in ERA, will be eager to attack a Yankees lineup that was limited to three hits in Cleveland’s series-opening 4-0 victory on Thursday.
Slugger Aaron Judge was 0-for-4 with four of New York’s 14 strikeouts, while fellow right fielder Jay Bruce homered and drove in three of the Indians’ four runs. Cleveland managed only five hits of its own but wore out Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray, who walked four and gave up three runs over 3 1/3 innings in the second straight poor start by a New York pitcher this postseason. Kluber was dominant in the playoffs a year ago, going 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts - including seven scoreless innings against Boston in his lone ALDS outing. Sabathia, who is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 10 starts following a loss this year, registered 106 wins and claimed a Cy Young Award during his eight years with the Indians.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, MLB Network
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees LH CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25)
Sabathia posted his best win total since 2013 and his lowest ERA since 2012 in a solid campaign that ended with victories in each of his final three starts. The 37-year-old will be making his first postseason appearance since giving up six runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings of Game 4 of the 2012 AL Championship Series. Carlos Santana (10-for-19), Francisco Lindor (5-for-9) and Jose Ramirez (4-for-8) have enjoyed their encounters with Sabathia, who last faced the Indians on Aug. 6, 2016.
Kluber also led or tied for the lead in the AL in wins, complete games (five) and shutouts (three) while finishing the regular season by going 6-0 in his final seven starts. That run began with eight dominant innings at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 28, a performance that came less than four weeks after he registered 11 strikeouts in a complete-game home victory over New York. Several Yankees have dismal numbers against Kluber, including Todd Frazier (3-for-26, 10 strikeouts), Aaron Hicks (3-for-23, eight), Chase Headley (1-for-14), Didi Gregorius (2-for-13) and Starlin Castro (2-for-12).
1. Castro recorded two of New York’s three hits in Game 1 and was one of just two starters that did not strike out.
2. Bruce has collected three home runs and eight RBIs in his last five games dating to the regular season.
3. Cleveland has won six of the last seven ALDS contests between the teams.
PREDICTION: Indians 4, Yankees 1