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Cleveland Only 3 Games Out of MLB Wild-Card Race

Some baseball observers left the Indians for dead prior to the All-Star break, but Cleveland has proven the naysayers wrong by completing a three-game sweep of the Rangers over the weekend.  With Sunday’s 4-3 win over Texas, coupled with the Blue Jays’ 6-1 loss at Houston, the Indians find themselves only three games behind Toronto in the American League’s second wild-card spot.

Much of Cleveland’s success this season has been predicated upon the right-arm of Corey Kluber, who is one of the best pitchers in the game today.  Kluber is 11-6 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.08 WHIP this season, including posting a 2.68 ERA and 0.99 WHIP at home, a 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in interleague play and a 2.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP at night.  To say that the 28-year-old takes the mound in excellent form would be an understatement in light of the fact that Kluber went 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in five July starts.

Kluber has registered 43 strikeouts and walked four in his last 41 innings, holding opponents to a .169 batting average and .197 on-base percentage in that span.  “It’s very exciting,” manager Terry Francona told MLB’s official website. “And anybody who’s been around him knows that he’s not content. He’ll be here tomorrow working every bit as hard and getting ready for his next start.”  Kluber has never faced the Reds in his career, which is an additional benefit for the hurler tonight.

Prior to winning three of four in Miami, the Reds started the second half of the season by losing ten of its first twelve games.  “The second half hasn’t been too good for us, but I feel like we’re getting back into it,” said Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton.”  Everybody’s producing well, and we’re coming to the field with a bunch of confidence.”  Cincinnati’s struggles have been predicated upon an anemic offense that simply cannot score runs:

Cincinnati’s Woeful Offense:

  • Batting .242 with a .297 on base percentage in 2014 (3.8 runs per game);
  • Batting .241 with a .288 on base percentage on the road (3.6 runs per game);
  • Batting .239 with a .292 on base percentage versus right-handed starters (3.6 runs per game);
  • Batting .239 with a .296 on base percentage at night (3.7 runs per game)

Meanwhile, Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon remains a prime regression candidate despite his misleading 2.84 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.  A cursory review of his metrics indicate that that veteran hurler should be avoided by sports bettors and fantasy sports players alike.  Specifically, Simon owns a 3.99 xFIP and 4.08 SIERA in 2014, although his metrics are trending in the wrong direction.  Simon’s 4.01 xFIP and 4.53 FIP in July are the first red flags, together with his 4.42 xFIP and 4.55 FIP in the second half of the season.

Cleveland also possesses a significant advantage in the bullpen as its relievers boast a 2.89 ERA and 1.20 WHIP this season, including a 2.86 ERA and 1.10 WHIP at home, a 2.67 ERA and 1.20 WHIP at night and a 1.12 ERA and 0.75 WHIP over the last seven games.  In contrast, Cincinnati’s bullpen arrives in town with a pedestrian 4.21 ERA and 1.39 WHIP on the road and a 6.66 ERA and 1.85 WHIP versus American League bats.

From a technical standpoint, Cleveland is a profitable 79-42 (+22.6 units) as favorites, 34-10 (+17.1 units) as favorites of -150 or more and 55-30 (+17.5 units) at home following a win.  The experts at Pro Edge Sports strongly recommend a solid wager on the Cleveland Indians tonight.

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