Despite a slow start to the 2015 campaign, Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber remains one of the best pitchers in baseball. Kluber was 10-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.00 WHIP at home last season (133 K/BB) and excelled during the month of May, going 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA. Don’t be misled by Kluber’s results to date – 0-3 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.26 WHIP – as his underlying metrics support last year’s skill set.
Kluber’s 2015 Metrics:
2.61 FIP & 2.78 xFIP
Kluber has the highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total of any starting pitcher without a win this season, according to FanGraphs. He’s improved his strikeout rate, swinging strike rate, and groundball rate, but has received just two runs of support per game.
Meanwhile, Toronto sends rookie Aaron Sanchez to the mound, and the 22-year-old has struggled with his command and control this season. Sanchez is 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 2015, including posting a 6.00 ERA and 1.77 WHIP on the road and a 4.41 ERA and 1.47 WHIP over his last three starts.
Even more concerning is the fact that the rookie right-hander owns a 16/14 K/BB ratio over 19 2/3-innings of work. His 16.1 walk percentage is the highest among all Major League starters with at least 15 innings pitched this season. Even worse news for Toronto fans is the fact that Sanchez’s underlying metrics don’t leave much room for hope.
Sanchez’s 2015 Metrics:
6.32 FIP & 4.56 xFIP
While Cleveland has been struggling at the plate this season, the month of May brings a sense of relief to the locker room. “I can’t tell you how much a different calendar month does for a baseball player’s psyche,” Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “When you say it turns a page, it really does.”
That sense of relief was evidenced last night wherein the Indians scored nine runs on 13 hits, including a trio of home runs by Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Brett Hayes. “We’ve put up good at-bats. We’ve hit the ball hard. Stuff just hasn’t been falling,” Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said. “It was certainly a fun night all-around. It’s May now. April is over.” Indeed, each member of Cleveland’s starting lineup collected at least one hit. “Today it was contagious and guys were feeling good and there was a loose environment in the dugout,” Kipnis said.
From a technical standpoint, Cleveland is a profitable 63-28 (+28.5 units) versus teams with a win percentage between .380 and .460, 25-10 (+14.0 units) at home in the month of May and 67-32 (+21.7 units) as a favorite of -175 or less (25-9 L/ 34 games). The Indians are also 49-17 at home versus teams with a losing road record, 7-3 in their last ten games versus American League East foes and 30-11 as favorites of -150 or more.
With Kluber toeing the rubber, the Indians are 21-7 in his last 28 starts, including 8-0 versus American League East opposition, 11-1 at home versus .499 or worse opponents, 7-3 in game three of a series. Take Cleveland in this Major League Baseball clash and invest with confidence.
Major League Baseball Best Bet: Cleveland Indians