Make-Up Game Picks: Indians vs. Cubs at the Friendly Confines

Darin Zank

Monday, August 24, 2015 10:01 AM GMT

Jon Lester & Corey Kluber combined to allow 13 runs in their most recent outings, but this handicapper believes both might be prime for bounce-back efforts when the Cubs host the Indians. 

Indians-Cubs Monday Odds
In the very early betting on this one the best line we could find on Chicago with Jon Lester was the -127 offered at Pinnacle, while Cleveland with Corey Kluber were getting +137 at GTBets. But that split wasn't going to last for long. And the total on today's game opened at 7.5 runs across the market.

 

The Situation
Today's game is a makeup of a rain-out from back in June.

Chicago just swept four games from Atlanta, winning Sunday 9-3. So the Cubs are 6-1-1 over their last eight series, and 19-4 over their last 23 games.

At 71-51 Chicago now trails first-place St. Louis by 6.5 games in the NL Central, but lead San Francisco now by six games in the battle for the second National League wild-card slot.

Cleveland, meanwhile, just took three of four games from the Yankees in New York, clinching the series with a 4-3 victory Sunday. So the Indians have won three of their last five series, and nine of their last 15 games.

At 58-65 Cleveland trails Texas by six games in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.

As mentioned above, this game was originally the opener of a four-game, two-city inter-league series back in June. Game 1 got rained out, after which the Indians took two of the next three games. The lone Cubs win in that series was that 17-0 romp.

 

Monday's Mound Match-Up
Lester (8-9, 3.58), by our tough accounting, is 14-for-24 on quality starts this season, and five for his last six. Last Wednesday he got bombed by Detroit for seven runs in less than three innings of work, but over his five starts previous to that he held opponents to eight runs through 35 1/3 innings. On the season Lester has allowed 143 hits through 148 innings, walked 39 and struck out 153.

Chicago is 13-11 in Lester's starts, with the totals skewing UNDER by a 14-8 margin.

Lester's most recent start against Cleveland came back in June of last season, when as a Red Sock he limited the Tribe to two runs, one earned, and eight hits through 7 2/3 innings of a 5-2 Boston win.

Kluber (8-13, 3.52) is 16-for-26 on quality starts, running hot and cold as of late. Over his last six starts he owns three complete games, including a one-hitter against Minnesota 10 days ago, but he's also been touched for at least five runs three times, including last Wednesday, when he gave up six runs and four home runs in six innings against Boston. For the season the reigning American League Cy Young winner has allowed fewer hits, 160, than innings pitched, 187, and owns a great K/BB ratio of 202/35.

The Indians are just 9-17 in Kluber's starts, but obviously that's not all his fault, with the UNDERS going 14-12.

This will be Kluber's first-ever start against the Cubbies.

 

Monday's Batting Splits
Cleveland ranks 12th in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .260 team batting average, and seventh with a .331 team on-base percentage.

Chicago, on the other hand, ranks 26th against right-handed pitching with a .243 team BA but 13th with a .318 team OBP. Cubs sticks have also scored at least five runs in nine of their last 10 games.

 

Ballpark Totals Factor
The UNDERS are 34-26 in games played at Wrigley Field this season, which are averaging 7.7 runs per.

 

Tribe-Cubs Monday Free Picks
Cleveland has been playing some decent ball as of late, but Chicago is hot, and the price isn't bad. We'll take the Cubbies as our MLB pick today. Also, both starting pitchers are probably ripe for bounce-back efforts, so we're thinking UNDER.

MLB Picks: Chicago and UNDER 7.5 runs (-105) at Heritage