MLB Betting: Expect Pitching Duel Between Indians and Giants

Rainman M.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 1:04 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jul. 18, 2017 1:04 PM UTC

The Indians and Giants have been struggling to score. Both teams will look to a young starting pitcher to give them a chance to win. The Giants have produced only 11 runs in their past 4 games, the Indians only nine runs. 

Francisco Lindor can’t be blamed for his team’s lack of offense: he followed up a 4-4 effort with 3 doubles on Sunday by going 3-for-5 last night. But Lindor can’t win by himself. The Indians, like the Giants, will rely on a second-year starter to keep tonight's game close.

Starting Pitchers

Ty Blach (6-5 4.60 ERA) starts for San Francisco.  His season has been up-and-down in different senses of the word. Blach is a finesse pitcher who relies not on the velocity of his pitches but primarily on their location. In some games, like against the Mets on June 23rd, he was simply off. He was unable to keep pitches down in the strike zone. When he left them up in the more hittable parts of the strike zone, he got crushed because most of his pitches aren’t difficult enough to hit when poorly located. Instead, he tries to locate his pitches effectively in order to induce ground balls. The downward movement of his pitches helps him achieve that aim. He generally pitches to contact and relies on having a good defense behind him, which is why he must hope that the Giants’ poor two-error performance last night only represented an anomaly.  But he is also able to induce a few strikeouts particularly with his changeup. What makes his changeup so difficult is the way in which it complements his fastball by reaching the plate with 10 mph less velocity. The switch of pace, the slight movement, and the difficult location in the lower borders of the strike zone can combine to keep batters off-balance. But that’s basically it—a pretty decent fastball-change up combination. When this combination is working out for him, he is able to survive against the opposing lineup for a second time. The fact that his opponents’ slugging % skyrockets when he sees them a second and third time suggests that his stuff may not be good enough to help him consistently go deep in his outings.  In his last two outings, Blach has put forth a quality six innings and he’ll look to do the same against a slumping Cleveland lineup that does not hit lefties as well as righties.

Mike Clevinger (5-3 3.00 ERA) counters for Cleveland. I love backing this guy because, contrary to Blach, he does possess the tools to go consistently deep into outings. His K/9 rate, (9.90) which is relatively high for a finesse pitcher, indicates the effectivity of his stuff. In most of his outings he is able to effectively utilize the complete arsenal of his pitches: a fastball with good vertical movement that he throws about half the time, and three breaking pitches that he throws the other half. Because of how his ability to vary the usage of his pitches makes him rather unpredictable to batters, he was reliable in two consecutive outings against the same Detroit lineup. He had another advantage in pitching in Detroit that will help him in San Francisco, as well: both ballparks feature a spacious outfield which is conducive to a fly ball pitcher. His road numbers are significantly stronger than his home numbers because in stadiums with more spacious outfields, fly balls remain fly balls more frequently and do not turn into home runs.  The larger margin for error helped him to pitch well in Kansas City, Houston and Detroit, while he has been punished in more hitter-friendly ballparks like in Colorado and often in his home ballpark. Tonight, he will still need to maintain the variety in his pitching selection. He can’t repeat his outing in Baltimore, in which he was reduced to being a two-pitch pitcher because he relied exceptionally much on his fastball and slider. He will also need to maintain his command. Too often, he subjects himself to an unnecessarily severe test by throwing wild pitches and walking batters. It seems that he is so afraid of giving up hits, that he’ll give up almost as many walks as hits. Clevinger needs to have more confidence in his stuff when he faces a slumping Giants lineup in San Francisco.

The Verdict

The combination of two in-form starters with two cold lineups creates a recipe for a low-scoring game. Both starters have been effective because they have been making few mistakes. Even if they don’t bring their ‚A‘ game, both lineups are having difficulties with achieving consistent productivity and establishing an effective rhythm on offense. The ‚over‘ will hit if two lineups magically catch fire or if two pitchers wake up on the wrong side of the bed. I think it’s far more likely that both pitchers continue to do what they’ve been doing. San Francisco's bullpen hasn’t seen much usage in the past two days. Cody Allen has pitched in consecutive games for Cleveland. In one three game stretch this season he pitched three consecutive games and struggled. But Cleveland’s elite bullpen is deep. San Francisco’s bullpen is, like Cleveland’s, rated in the top ten as measured by FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck), and even without a healthy Mark Melancon will have enough quality arms available.  Look for Clevinger and Blach to keep the early scoring low on our MLB Picks.

Free MLB Pick: Under 4.5 1h
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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