While not a marquee matchup, sportsbooks have placed betting odds on this Cleveland at Oakland encounter, thus that should be enough for anybody putting together MLB picks to be excited.
This is the opener of a four-game series and based on recent results for both clubs, they should be thirsting to get off to a good start in this matchup. In my last eight game previews, I have assembled a sharp 7-1 record, so let's see if I can continue to shine as a baseball handicapper and be on the correct side for this American League contest.
The last thing Cleveland needed to do before leaving on a West Coast trip was flying out there with a long losing streak. Having lost six straight, the Indians went on the warpath and crushed Kansas City 12-1 yesterday. "I think we needed it on a number of fronts," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website. "We needed that. That'll help us."
The Indians have played with greater confidence on the road compared to at home and are 26-22 (+3.2 units) away from Lake Erie. The Cleveland offense is only marginally better in home/away splits (4.0 vs. 3.9 RPG), but for some reason the overall pitching is better, surrendering 3.6 runs per contest compared to 5.0 at Progressive Field.
Having lost five of their last six to Oakland, all at home, if you're making MLB picks, realize the Tribe is 12-2 revenging two straight losses as a home favorite since last season.
Oakland went 1-4 on trip up and down California and has tumbled in five of its last six. Some A's players have not been too thrilled about the return of players they have gotten in trades, wanting to improve this year's club and not concern themselves with the future, except for paychecks.
Like Cleveland, the Athletics have been lousy at home with a 21-29 record and cost backers dearly at -17.4 units. Just the fact Oakland is 12 games below .500 is puzzling (45-57), because they have are +36 in run differential, which would normally indicate a record closer to 55-47. Also, Bob Melvin's team leads the AL in ERA at 3.48, but here is where it all falls apart.
In spite of the great pitching numbers, the A's have the second-worst bullpen ERA in the league and this crew has blown 15 of 34 save chances, leading to a 10-19 record from this group.
To say Oakland's fielding has been atrocious is an understatement, leading the majors with 87 errors, which is more than double of Baltimore (40) and the L.A. Dodgers (43). When you add a terrible bullpen with a revolting fielding, Oakland having a 22-42 record in games determined by three or fewer runs makes sense.
Carrasco vs. Bassitt
Though the ability is there, the results for Carlos Carrasco (10-8, 4.26 ERA) are not. After being fairly consistent since the middle of May, twice in his last four outings, he's only made it through four innings and all told conceding 11 runs on 17 hits. Carrasco has a good moving mid-90's heater, a sweeping curve and solid change but every two to four starts he's like a business real estate realtor, with everything coming down to location, location, location. However, Carrasco has a 3.10 ERA on the road and the Tribe are 7-2 in his starts.
Chris Bassitt (0-3, 2.94) has made four starts and not gotten much run support as noted by his ERA. The 26-year old relies heavily on a good sinker along with two fringe breaking pitches. He relies primarily on groundball outs with a lower strikeout percentage but his control is shaky, averaging less than a 2-1 K-to-W ratio.
Betting Odds and Outcome
Cleveland's MLB odds have risen steadily from -115 to over -130 (Heritagesports still at -124) and most likely because of the Indians play on the road, Oakland's shoddy home record and the Indians having the better starting pitcher and bullpen.
With the A's 5-16 playing against a team with a 38% to 46% win percentage this season, have to agree.
Free MLB Pick - Cleveland -131 at BookMaker