Prior to Monday’s game at Tropicana Field, Cleveland manager Terry Francona held a team meeting to discuss the Indians’ recent struggles. Cleveland had just been swept over the weekend by Baltimore and only scored three runs in the series. The Indians were averaging a paltry 2.75 runs per game through 24 games, entering Monday, which was a far cry from the 5.03 runs per game Cleveland was averaged in May (29 games).
Following that meeting, Cleveland has won three straight against the Rays, scoring a combined 21 runs in the process. Now, the Indians give the ball to Corey Kluber, who owns a 3.66 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 2015. Those surface statistics are misleading in light of Kluber’s underlying metrics: 2.63 FIP, 2.74 xFIP and 2.72 SIERA.
The All-Star hurler also boasts a 2.64 FIP and 2.65 xFIP on the road with 10.57 K/9 and 1.57 BB/9 rates. Kluber is also supported by a very good Cleveland bullpen that owns a 3.22 ERA and 1.29 WHIP this season, including a 3.39 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the road and a 3.52 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in day games.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay turns to Matt Moore, who makes his first Major League start since undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 22, 2014. The talented lefty made five rehabilitation starts totaling 21 1/3 innings before being cleared to pitch today. During his Triple-A rehab starts, Moore posted a 4.35 ERA and 3.95 FIP.
Moore’s velocity has not returned to pre-surgery levels and the southpaw will likely be on a strict pitch count in his first start in over 14 months. I should also note that Moore garnered a pedestrian 4.15 SIERA in 2012, a 4.24 SIERA in 2013 and a 4.99 SIERA in 2014 (limited action prior to injury).
From a technical standpoint, Cleveland is a profitable 10-4 in its last fourteen road games versus teams with a losing record, 41-20 as a road favorite of -150 or less and 8-3 in Kluber’s last 11 starts against American League East opposition. The Rays are a money-burning 3-10 in their last thirteen games after losing the first three games of a series and 3-13 in their last sixteen versus right-handed starters.
Indeed, Tampa Bay is batting .236 with a .291 on base percentage versus righties (3.4 runs per game) and .171 with a 216 on base percentage over the last ten days (2.0 runs per game). Take Cleveland as Oskeim Sports Best Bet on Thursday and invest with confidence.
Oskeim Sports Best Bet: Cleveland Indians