Indians-Astros: AL Division Leaders in Potential Playoff Preview

indians astros

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 17, 2018 2:15 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 17, 2018 2:15 PM UTC

One of the top series of the weekend opens Friday night in Houston as the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians take on the AL West No. 1 Astros.

Cleveland (21-21, 22-19-1 O/U) at Houston (28-17, 14-28-3 O/U)Free MLB Pick: Under & AstrosBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3387821, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,999991,93,43,238], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

When the 2018 MLB schedule was released, May 18 was a date that many circled as the start of a fantastic weekend because the LA Dodgers were visiting the Washington Nationals in the NL and the Cleveland Indians were at the Houston Astros in the Junior Circuit. All four teams won their divisions last year and were favored to do so again in 2018. I still think at least three will (not sure about Dodgers). Indians-Astros has an 8:10 p.m. first pitch from Minute Maid Park.

Cleveland-Houston should be a 2017 ALCS rematch. The Indians were solidly favored to beat the New York Yankees in last year’s ALDS and had a 2-0 series lead. However, then the Cleveland offense went to sleep in totaling just five runs in losing the next three games and the series. Of course, the Astros would rally from a 3-2 deficit in the ALCS to beat the Yankees and go on to win the franchise’s first World Series.

I fully expect the Tribe to repeat as AL Central winners even though they are underachieving with that .500 record. It’s not so much a ton of faith in Cleveland but that the rest of the Central sucks – no other club has a winning record, with the White Sox, Royals and Tigers not even really trying. Houston should win the AL West again, although the Angels are likely to hang around all season. If you are wondering, the Indians and Astros (a former NL team) have never met in the postseason.

The Indians were 5-1 vs. the Astros in the 2017 regular season, taking all three in Houston – each by at least two runs.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

#StarWarsNight is tomorrow!

The Reddick and Chewbacca t-shirt and bobblehead are only available through this special ticket package: https://t.co/ArEAdN4pNg pic.twitter.com/z2st7BVW8u

— Houston Astros (@astros) May 17, 2018
\n\n"}[/]

Probable Pitchers: Clevinger vs. Morton

It’s Mike Clevinger for Cleveland, and he surprisingly has been the second-best starter on the staff this year behind two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Clevinger (3-0, 2.70) comes off a win against the Royals, throwing 7.2 innings and allowing two runs with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 81 of 115 pitches for strikes and didn't walk a batter for the first time this season in winning for the first time since April 21.

Clevinger isn’t a huge strikeout guy with 44 in 53.1 innings but has doesn’t walk a ton (14 BB), has allowed just two homers and has a very nice 1.07 WHIP. He seems to like being away from Cleveland with a 10-5 record and 3.22 ERA in 24 career outings on the road. No Astros batter has more than four at-bats off him. Jose Altuve is 2-for-4 with a double. George Springer 0-for-4. Carlos Correa 0-for-3.

Clevinger is a bit underrated, but Houston’s Charlie Morton (5-0, 2.03) might be the most overshadowed pitcher in the AL because he’s on the same staff as Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel. Morton is Top 10 in the AL in wins, ERA, strikeouts (62) and WHIP (0.97). Batters are hitting only .176 against him.

Morton comes off a career-high 14 strikeout performance against the Rangers, allowing one run over seven. He is on a personal eight-game winning streak, which is a career best. That spans his past 11 regular-season starts to Sept. 15, 2017. Morton has a 2.01 ERA in that stretch. He is 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in two career starts vs. the Tribe, however. Edwin Encarnacion is 1-for-3 with a homer off him. Struggling Jason Kipnis 2-for-6 with a dinger. Yonder Alonso just 1-for-14.

  • Indians are 2-7 in their last 9 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
  • Astros are 6-1 in Morton’s last 7 starts with 5 days of rest.
  • Under is 23-11-1 in Clevinger’s last 35 starts overall.
  • Under is 8-2 in Morton’s last 10 home starts.

I’m not about to bet against Morton right now as he’s 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA at home this year. But as noted above, Clevinger is strong on the road. Thus, the ‘under’ is the Friday MLB pick, parlaying with the Astros on the moneyline. Cleveland has lost five straight series openers.

comment here