Indians on Warpath Seeking to Complete Sweep of Tigers

jose indians

Rainman M.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 1:29 PM UTC

Cleveland looks to achieve a rare four-game series sweep of Detroit tonight. Although both pitchers have ugly statistics against the opposing lineup, the host Indians have a significant betting edge.

MLB Thursday: Detroit Tigers (4-7) vs Cleveland Indians (7-5)Free MLB Pick: Indians -1.5 RL, +120Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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The Indians have been thriving during their 10-game homestand, winning five of six thus far. Dating to last season, Cleveland has won its last 10 games against the Tigers, with the run line (-1.5) on the MLB odds board hitting in eight of them.

Despite Cleveland's ability to win, its offense has been rather slow. Cleveland improved Wednesday night, achieving the run line with a five-run performance. Expect more of the same tonight because of the "due factor." The due factor is a very popular form of reasoning, whereby bettors assume that an underachieving team will finally start achieving. The great thing about baseball capping is that the tools are readily available to substantiate the due factor.

xBA is the metric that calculates a team's expected batting average by measuring each player's skill set. The Indians are last, by far, in terms of BA-xBA, meaning their batting average sits well below where it should be. Their struggles have been largely due to bad luck. BABIP measures how frequently a ball put in play lands for a hit. A batter can only make contact with the ball. What happens after that with the ball is largely a matter of luck. So the Indians, who are also last in team BABIP, are due for more of the balls they put in play to land for a hit.

Cleveland has seen much of Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer (1-1 0.68 ERA), with consistent success. Active Indians batters are hitting .333 against him in 69 career at-bats. Jose Ramirez, whose current BABIP is an insane .212 lower than his career BABIP, is filled with upside. He's 3-for-8 with a double and a homer against Fulmer. In four career starts in Cleveland, Fulmer's ERA is 5.73. Of the 10 teams against which he has started at least twice, Cleveland is his toughest opponent. Fulmer's career FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) is significantly higher than his ERA, meaning he is due for some regression. The same disparity exists in his career April numbers. So luck won't be on his side tonight. But Cleveland's batters, who are heating up, won't need luck, either.

Trevor Bauer (0-1 2.08 ERA) counters for Cleveland. His career numbers are terrible against Detroit, but bettors need to throw these numbers away because Bauer didn't face the Tigers in the second half of last season. Bauer became a different pitcher, achieving an ERA of less than 3.00 in August and September. A key for Bauer has been to throw his curveball more often, which is his greatest whiff-inducing pitch. He also threw his slider more often, while "cutting" out the cutter from his arsenal. This decision has led to greater pitch placement and fewer costly mistakes. So he gave up a smaller proportion of homers and improved his K-BB ratio. Bauer's two favorite pitches continue to be the slider and curve, meaning he is building off what he learned at the end of last season. He simply needed to throw his best stuff more frequently!

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This season, Detroit ranks 28th in BA against the slider and curve combined. Because Bauer throws these two pitches most frequently and most effectively, he matches up well against them. Slumping Detroit has scored three runs in its past four games and lacks Cleveland's offensive upside. The Indians' bullpen got to rest completely Wednesday. Its team ERA is .99 lower than that of the Tigers' pen.

The surging Indians' lineup, the improved Bauer's pitching advantage and Detroit's offensive rut speak for the Indians RL in our MLB picks.

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