PREVIEW: Indians take on Rays for first time in 2018

Author:
Publish date:

CLEVELAND-- The Cleveland Indians (76-57) host the Tampa Bay Rays (71-62) on Friday night to begin a three-game series. It's the first time these two teams will face off in 2018.

Time: 7:10 p.m.

Starting Pitchers: CLE Corey Kluber (16-7, 2.91) vs. TBR Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 4.18)

TV: SportsTime Ohio

Online: MLB.TV

Radio: WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM, Indians Radio Network

Here are three keys to Friday night's game.

Image placeholder title

1. Getting Kluber on a roll

Every start remaining for Corey Kluber during the final month of the regular season is going to be important in terms of getting him on a consistent roll before the start of playoffs.

Just before the All-Star Game, Kluber received a knee injection, and since then he has mostly rebounded going 5-2 with a 3.33 ERA. Kluber is, however, coming off a loss to the Kansas City Royals in which he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs and nine hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

It's also worth noting that with still a month remaining, Kluber has given up 22 home runs (only three of which have come since that knee injection) tying his career high.

Since that knee injection, Kluber has shown improvement. But ultimately, Friday night provides another opportunity for the reigning Cy Young winner to iron out any wrinkles that may remain as the postseason nears.

Image placeholder title

2. Glasnow on the mound

This will be Tyler Glasnow's first career appearance against Cleveland.

He is coming off a start against the Royals on Aug. 23 in which he gave up five hits, the most he's relinquished in five starts with Tampa Bay since he joined the Rays at the deadline.

In five starts with Tampa Bay, he is 0-1 with a 3.80 ERA.

Image placeholder title

3. Can Melky stay hot?

Since Aug. 12, Melky Cabrera has been on a tear.

The Melk Man is hitting .367 (20-for-55) with five homers and 16 RBI. Since returning to the team in late July after being called up from Class Triple-A Columbus, Cabrera is slashing .313/.379/.518.

The Indians have been rather unlucky concerning their injury-plagued outfield this season; however, if Cabrera can continue to produce down the stretch it gives them more depth than many thought would be possible a month ago.