Cleveland right-hander Cory Kluber continues to be one of the best arms in baseball as evidenced by the fact that he is 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.22 WHIP this season, including going 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.04 WHIP at home and 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over his last three starts. Kluber is coming off an extremely strong May wherein he garnered a 2.09 ERA in six starts, allowing no more than three runs while lasting at least 6 2/3-innings in each of his starts.
“He can make the ball go both ways,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He can cut it. He’s got a slider, changeup. He throws both sides of the plate, he’s got power, and it’s late movement. It’s real hard to kind of distinguish.” Kluber’s peripheral statistics are well-supported by underlying metrics: the right-hander owns a 2.54 xFIP and a 2.64 SIERA. “He makes a lot of quality pitches. But it’s not like he’s getting deep in the counts where he’s throwing stuff in the dirt trying to get guys to chase. He just has really good stuff,” Cleveland reliever Cody Allen said. “You’re either going to get a lot of weak contact or swing-miss. You don’t see a lot of balls hit hard off of him.”
Kluber now faces a scuffling Boston lineup that is batting a woeful .246 with a .323 on base percentage this season (4.1 runs per game), including hitting .229 with a .304 on base percentage on the road (4.2 runs per game) and .240 with a .310 on base percentage versus right-handed starters (3.7 runs per game). Kluber is also supported by a reliable Cleveland bullpen that owns a 3.18 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2014, including a 3.20 ERA and 1.20 WHIP at home and a 2.74 ERA and 1.32 WHIP at night. Let’s also note that Cleveland is riding an eight-game winning streak at Progressive Field and has won five in a row overall. In fact, the Indians are an American League-best 20-11 at home this season.
Since replacing injured Felix Doubront in the starting rotation, Boston right-hander Brandon Workman has posted a 4.35 ERA in a pair of no-decisions. The 25-year-old compiled a decent 3.65 ERA across four Minor League seasons and is still considered a top prospect within the organization. The good news for Workman, who has yet to reach the sixth inning in either of his starts, is supported by an outstanding Boston relief staff that owns a 2.71 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season, including a 2.44 ERA and 1.20 WHIP on the road, a 2.45 ERA and 1.16 WHIP at night and a 0.64 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over the last seven games.
From a technical standpoint, Cleveland is 20-5 (+13.3 units) at home versus teams with a win percentage of .460 to .490 and 60-27 (+32.0 units) versus teams averaging less than 4.3 runs per game, while Corey Kluber is 11-1 (+10.4 units) versus poor power-hitting teams that are averaging less than 1.0 home runs per game. We also like the fact that Cleveland is a profitable 71-49 (+18.5 units) following a win, 15-5 (+9.9 units) off three or more consecutive home games, 32-12 (+16.9 units) at home after winning five of its last six games and 43-15 (+21.4 units) as favorites of -175 or less, including 34-11 (+17.6 units) as home favorites of -125 to -175.
In contrast, Boston is a money-burning 3-8 in its last 11 games in game 3 of a series, 1-10 in its last 11 games following a loss and 0-6 in its last six games versus American League Central opponents. It’s also difficult to ignore the following trends supporting the Indians:
- Cleveland is 39-13 L/52 home games vs. .499 or worse opposition;
- Cleveland is 47-19 L/66 games as a favorite;
- Cleveland is 13-3 in Kluber’s L/16 starts as a favorite;
- Cleveland is 12-3 in Kluber’s L/15 home starts
- Cleveland is 20-8 in Kluber’s L/28 starts overall
Pro Edge Sports Pick: Cleveland Indians (-140)