Kluber and Tribe in Bounce-Back Mode in Milwaukee

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 11:33 AM UTC

Tuesday, May. 8, 2018 11:33 AM UTC

Milwaukee hosts Cleveland for a two-game interleague series starting Tuesday at 7:40 ET. Both teams are coming off embarrassing defeats. Which one will bounce back?

Cleveland Indians (17-17) at Milwaukee Brewers (20-15)Free MLB Pick: Cleveland RLBest Line Offered: Heritage

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Trends are indicative of how teams and players respond to certain circumstances. Coming off being swept at the Yankees, the Indians are primed to bounce back. After a three-game losing streak, the Indians’ RL has hit seven consecutive times and is 7-1 since last season. The ML hit each of those times. Milwaukee, too, is coming off a poor performance. Contrary to Cleveland, no positive trend exists for the Brewers after suffering a shutout loss.

Cleveland ace and 2017 CY Young Award winner Corey Kluber (5-1, 2.41 ERA) is coming off a complacent start in which he allowed three home runs against Texas, but the Indians’ lineup dominated from start to finish with 12 runs scores. So Kluber could afford to be lax, especially without runners on base and every homer that he allowed was a solo shot. After taking such a shot to his pride, Kluber tends to buckle down in his next outing. He can also produce an uptick in velocity after not having to throw so hard in an easy win. Kluber has won four out of his last five starts after allowing multiple homers with a FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) under 2.00 in three of them. Additionally, he is 10-0 in his last 12 starts after allowing multiple runs, yielding an FIP under 2.50 in six of those starts. So in addition to being a strong RL play, Cleveland is also a worthwhile addition to your ML parlays.

Despite already being dominant, Kluber is finding ways to improve. For example, he eliminated much of the vertical movement in his slider so that it is less easy for batters to track and has more "slide." Its opposing BA is down .19 from last season and its opposing slugging is down .06. He also added more "cut" to his cutter so that opponents are batting a career-low .186 against it. His drop this year in vertical release point makes his pitches harder to see and hit for right-handed batters, which spells trouble for most of Milwaukee’s everyday hitters.

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Wade Miley (1-0, 1.50 ERA) counters for Milwaukee in his second start of the season following a groin injury that he suffered during Spring Training. Miley was dumped by Baltimore after producing a career-worst 5.32 walks-per-nine-innings rate last season. In his last month with the team, he walked three or more batters in three of five starts — including a three-walk performance against Cleveland, in which he allowed four runs in 5.2 innings and took the L. The wild fluctuations in the vertical release points of his pitches indicated mechanical problems. In walking one batter every two innings in his debut start with Milwaukee against the lowly Reds, he has yet to show the desired improvement in command.

Despite its recent hot streak, the Indians’ lineup is still one of the most underachieving in baseball per the metric BA minus xBA (expected batting average). But Cleveland hitters won’t even need much upside against Miley, against whom they are hitting .308 and slugging .577 in 104 career at-bats. Look out especially for Edwin Encarnacion, who is 7-for-16 with two doubles and three homers against Miley. Since 2017, he is slugging an insane .658 against the fastball and cutter, Miley’s two primary pitches, from left-handed pitchers. Moreover, Francisco Lindor has a nine-game hitting streak and is 4-for-9 with two doubles against Miley.

The Brewers will fail to threaten the concentrated Kluber and Indians lineup in our MLB picks tonight.

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