Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Photo by Ray Stubblebine/UPI | License Photo
Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is expected to start Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros on Saturday, will start the Indians' final game of the regular season Sunday afternoon against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Carrasco isn't expected to go more than 70 or 80 pitches, as manager Terry Francona wants to keep the 31-year-old right-hander fresh for his start in Houston.
"We need to get Carlos ready," Francona said.
Trevor Bauer will follow Carrasco to the mound. The Indians have yet to decide whether Bauer will be used as a starter or reliever in the postseason.
Carrasco's last appearance came as a reliever Sept. 25, a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Carrasco in that game relieved Bauer in the fifth inning, as the two starters were getting limited work in preparation for the postseason.
In that relief stint, Carrasco pitched four scoreless innings on one hit before giving up a walk, three consecutive singles and three runs in the ninth inning. In 4 1/3 innings overall, he allowed three runs and four hits, with eight strikeouts and four walks.
"Carlos was very good until the ninth inning," Francona said.
Carrasco's last win came Aug. 28. He is 0-3 with a 3.62 ERA in five appearances (four starts) since.
His last start against Kansas City, his only outing against the Royals this year, came in his second start of the season, a 3-2 win on April 6. In that game, Carrasco pitching six innings, allowing two runs and five hits, with four strikeouts and one walk. In 23 career appearances (18 starts) against the Royals, Carrasco is 10-6 with a 3.55 ERA.
The Indians go into Sunday's game with a record of 90-71. It's the third time in team history that they have had three consecutive seasons with 90 or more wins. The other two times were from 1999-2001, and from 1950-1955.
The Indians' starting lineup Sunday will probably be the one they use in Game 1 of the Division Series against Houston, which will include Jason Kipnis in center field.
Kipnis was moved from second base to the outfield after the Indians traded for third baseman Josh Donaldson at the end of August.
Donaldson's arrival pushed Jose Ramirez from third to second base, and Kipnis from second to center field, where he's played well offensively and defensively. Kipnis is hitting .275 as a center fielder after hitting .228 while at second base.
"He looks more comfortable out there in center. He looks pretty good," Francona said.
The Royals (58-103) will conclude the season with left-hander Eric Skoglund on the mound. Skoglund (1-5, 5.40) will make his 13th start of the season. He missed three months with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
His last start was an abbreviated one. On Sept. 25, he got no decision in a 4-3 Royals win over the Cincinnati Reds. Skoglund pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and giving up one hit but left the game after a long rain delay.
Skoglund's only win of the season came April 28. In nine appearances (eight starts) since then, he is 0-3 with a 4.98 ERA.
His last start against Cleveland, on Aug. 27, 2017, was ugly. In 1 1/3 innings, he gave up seven runs and seven hits, with one strikeout and two walks.
In two career appearances against the Indians, Skoglund is 0-2 with a 29.70 ERA, having given up 11 runs, 11 hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.