Houston, We Have a Problem … Indians Will Take Game 2 of ALDS

Friday, October 5, 2018 12:41 PM UTC

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 12:41 PM UTC

Houston hosts Cleveland for Game Two of the ALDS. If Houston thought it could cakewalk to the ALCS, it will have to think again.

ALDS Game 2: Cleveland at HoustonSaturday, 4:37 p.m. ET (TBS)Free MLB Pick: Indians MLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco (17-10, 3.38 ERA) is remarkably stronger away from home. Opponents bat .220 against him on the road, .35 lower than in Cleveland. His road FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) is 2.56. His FIP is under 2.50 in his last three starts overall and in three of his last four road starts. The one exception came when he pitched off only four days’ rest. In the playoffs, Carrasco has thrown 5.2 shutout innings.

Carrasco relies on five different pitches with between 10 and 31 percent frequency. He yields a BA under .230 against his curveball, slider, and change-up. These pitches are effective because they share very similar horizontal and vertical release points, so that batters struggle to discern which pitch is leaving his hand. His curveball is unique with its relatively strong velocity. It is elusive with its glove-side movement, tricky with its negative vertical movement, hard to reach with its concentration in the lowest-right spots in the zone, and unpredictable with its unusually frequent elevation in the zone.

Carrasco’s slider enjoys tight movement and he places it with 26 percent frequency in the lowest-right spot in the zone, thereby toying with the batter's perception of whether it will land for a strike or a ball. Carrasco’s change-up combines surprisingly strong velocity with good arm-side movement and unusual rising action. He concentrates his change-up’s location either in the periphery of the zone, whereby he makes it tail out of the zone, so that it’s either running aggressively inside against lefties or away from righties, or in the lowest row of the zone. Despite his negotiation with the borders of the zone, Carrasco throws more strikes than balls with his change-up.

Astros batters have garnered positive numbers against Carrasco because they’ve succeeded against him in Cleveland. But in Houston, Carrasco has a 1.17 ERA in three starts, yielding barely over one hit per two innings. Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick are the only two Houston batters with strong numbers against Carrasco, but Altuve hit only .256 in September and Reddick .230.

Cleveland’s bullpen has a negative reputation because of its poor stats early in the season. But it has since retooled and rebuilt itself. Opponents are batting .155 against Oliver Perez, .188 against Brad Hand away from Cleveland, Jon Edwards has thrown 5.1 straight shutout innings, and Adam Cimber allowed one run in five innings on the road in September.

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BALLGAME!

For the 3rd straight year, we are American League Central champions!#Windians | #RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/DSe4H5fROJ

— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) 15. September 2018
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Houston’s Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA) has allowed four runs against two of his last three winning opponents at home. The one exception was Colorado, which typically hits poorly away from home. His career postseason ERA is 3.94 and his last playoff appearance came in 2015 as a member of the Pirates.

Cole’s fastball is his favorite pitch. In the past two months, he’s thrown it with season-high 57 percent frequency. He doesn’t have much of a second pitch, so even when he struggles he still leans on his fastball. His fastball's strongest asset is its velocity, averaging 94-99 mph. But velocity has been the strength of Cleveland’s lineup. The Indians rank third in September in slugging against the 94-99 mph fastball. Watch for Edwin Encarnacion, who is slugging over 1.000 against the high-velo fastball. Francisco Lindor and Melky Cabrera are slugging over .600 against it.

MLB oddsmakers are asking bettors to lay chalk with the Astros, even though they are a betting disaster at home, yielding -27.3 units. They were 4-8 against winning teams at home after the All-Star Break. Bet on Cleveland to prolong Houston’s misery at home for an MLB Pick.

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