The Tribe hunts for a sweep of the Rays Thursday afternoon at the Trop. Cy Young winner Corey Kluber is only a medium favorite today, making Cleveland a very tempting play.
Thursday's Betting Odds
In the early action the best line we could find on Cleveland and Corey Kluber was the -133 offered at Pinnacle, while Tampa and Matt Moore were getting +128 at 5Dimes. And most books were listing the total on today's game at 6.5 runs.
Cleveland has taken the first three games of this four-game series, by scores of 7-1, 6-2 and, Wednesday night, 8-1, on Carlos Carrasco's near no-hitter. Thanks to totals of seven runs on all three games, this series has produced three OVERS so far.
So Tampa has lost four games in a row overall and eight of its last 10, falling out of first place in the AL East. At 42-38 the Rays trail the division-leading Orioles by one game, although they're also tied with Toronto and Minnesota for the second American League wild-card spot.
Prior to arriving in Tampa the Indians had lost three series in a row, going 2-7 in the process. At 36-41 Cleveland is 4.5 games from the nearest playoff spot.
The Indians lead this season series four games to two.
Thursday's Pitching Match-Up
Moore will be making his first start since having Tommy John surgery 17 months ago. Two seasons ago the lefty went 17-4 for the Rays with a 3.29 ERA; last season he lasted two starts, before going down and out.
In two rehab starts down at Triple-A Durham this spring Moore gave up six runs in 10 innings, with four walks and 15 strikeouts. He's very likely to be on a pitch count today.
Two years ago Moore started twice against the Tribe, throwing a total of seven shutout innings, with two walks and nine whiffs; Tampa won both those games.
Kluber (3-9, 3.66) is 9/16 on quality starts this season. Last Friday he gave up three runs in seven innings against Baltimore, with 10 strikeouts, and over his last four starts he's allowed 11 runs through 26 innings. On the season the reigning AL Cy Young award winner has allowed 104 hits in 111 innings, with 23 walks and 127 strikeouts; thanks mainly to some terrible run support Cleveland is just 3-13 in Kluber's starts, with the UNDERS going 10-6.
Since the beginning of last season Kluber has started three times against Tampa, giving up six runs and 18 hits through 21 2/3 innings; the Indians won two of those games, and two of those games played UNDER.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Cleveland ranks fourth in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .340 team on-base percentage.
Tampa, meanwhile, ranks 24th against righties this season with a .300 OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Trop this season are 23-18 on the OVERS, even though they've averaged just 7.5 runs per. Apparently bookmakers have been posting some low totals on Rays home games.
Thursday's Free MLB Picks
Cleveland shoots for the sweep, throwing its ace against a Tampa lineup having troubles recently. And today's price isn't too prohibitive. We like the Tribe for our MLB picks. Also, considering one team probably won't score more than one or two runs, we're thinking UNDER.