Well, I was on the money yesterday with the Indians, at least in terms of what I talked about on The Bettor’s Box podcast. The Indians have really taken advantage of a very weak schedule recently to be one of the biggest overachievers in baseball. Just look at the alternate standings and you can see that this team, with its negative run differential, has no business being in the playoff hunt.
The reality is that now is a good time to get yourself some Chicago White Sox futures, as they’re going to run away and hide in this division in the near future and will get healthier as the season goes along.
Today, the Indians send Sam Hentges to the wolves. The Astros seem to be averaging like seven runs per game this season and hit that number again yesterday, mostly on the strength of a Jose Altuve grand slam. They just find ways to beat you and score a ton of runs in the process. If they can fix the bullpen, they’ll be the best team in baseball. Frankly, they might already be the best team in baseball.
Hentges has allowed 30 runs in 35.2 innings as a Major Leaguer. The Indians probably won’t end up throwing him all that long in this game, but the left-hander does draw a Houston offense that simply mauls left-handed pitching, so that isn’t good for him or the Tribe.
One problem I foresee for the Indians, beyond Hentges and his really ugly 7.32 ERA and 5.26 FIP, is that Phil Maton has worked back-to-back days and he has sort of been their bridge guy when a starter leaves early. Blake Parker has also gotten into games early and he’s worked back-to-back days. If Hentges is in trouble early, and he probably will be with really poor command and control numbers, I don’t know where the Indians will go.
Somebody needs to reach out to customer service at a sportsbook and ask them to set a prop whether or not a position player will pitch for the Indians tonight. If somebody gave me like +500 or +600 on the Yes, I’d probably end up taking that bet.
Lance McCullers Jr. gets the call for Houston. He has some strong numbers with a 2.94 ERA and a 3.89 FIP. His FIP is quite a bit higher because he has a high walk rate, but the Indians, who used to walk a lot, don’t walk much anymore. They are more of an aggressive lineup and not a very good one at that.
It pains me to say this as an Indians fan, but this is not a good baseball team right now. The starting rotation is in shambles and these call-ups can get by against the Orioles, Mariners, and Pirates of the world, but the best offense in baseball is a different animal. As far as I’m concerned, the Indians need 5+ runs to have any hope of being in this game. McCullers has allowed two or fewer runs in nine of his 12 starts and has allowed three in two of those.
It’s chalky. It’s public. It’s whatever. I think it’s a good bet, as I don’t think this is a competitive game and the Indians will probably find themselves near .500 by the All-Star Break with a much tougher schedule in front of them.
Pick: Houston Astros Run Line
Other game: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals