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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Did you know that the Indians are in first place in the AL Central? The club just swept the Royals in a four-game series at home. Meanwhile, the White Sox were swept by the fourth-place Tigers, continuing a trend of Pale Hose incompetence dating back to nearly a month ago. And the Twins are, well, the Twins. So, the Central is thoroughly mediocre and seemingly up for grabs.

The Indians, seven games above .500, are slightly above average across the board. Their .324 weighted on-base average (wOBA) as a team ranks 10th in baseball despite Yan Gomes and 169 plate appearances of .578 OPS and Juan Uribe (155, .634). This is also despite Michael Brantley taking only 43 PA this season, and carrying Michael Martinez on the active roster.

Their rotation ERA of 3.98 is 11th-best in baseball, thanks in large part to Danny Salazar, whose 2.24 ERA over 11 starts isn’t quite representative of how he’s pitched thus far. And their bullpen ERA of 3.43 is 10th-best even with closer Cody Allen and set-up man Bryan Shaw owning mediocre ERA’s of 3.70 and 4.70, respectively.

In a tougher division, the Indians might not even be at .500 and could very well be in last place. But they’ve lucked out thus far as the Central has been a hot mess and the Twins have been siphoning wins to everybody. (To the White Sox and Tigers, six; to the Royals, five; to the Indians, two.)

Tonight, the Indians will match up with another surprisingly-good team in the Mariners. Trevor Bauer will face off against James Paxton at 10:10 PM EDT.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy) @ Baltimore Orioles (Mike Wright), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jonathon Niese), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A.  Happ) @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer),  7:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Mike Fiers) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 8:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 10:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger), 10:10 PM EDT

Pirates set to promote top prospect Mitch Keller

Mitch Keller
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MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo reports that the Pirates will promote top pitching prospect Mitch Keller in advance of their doubleheader against the Reds on Monday. Confirmation of the move is still pending an official announcement, but Keller will reportedly face off against Sonny Gray in Game 2.

Keller, 23, is currently listed as the Pirates’ no. 1 prospect and the no. 16 overall prospect in the league, per MLB.com. He was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft and has spent the last six years refining his technique in Pittsburgh’s farm system, where he recently made the jump to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2018. So far this season, he’s 5-0 in nine starts with a 3.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 10.7 SO/9 through 47 innings.

It’s not clear how long of a leash the Pirates will give Keller, though given the current state of their rotation — down to four serviceable starters with Jameson Taillon on the 60-day injured list (right elbow flexor strain), Trevor Williams on the 10-day IL (right side strain), and a handful of replacements yet to impress — they may be inclined to keep him on a little longer than his spot start requires.