MLB Picks: Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Indians

Willie Bee

Friday, September 20, 2013 12:04 PM GMT

The Cleveland Indians are eight days away from realizing their unlikely dream of reaching the playoffs. The Houston Astros are eight days away from ending a nightmarish first season in the American League.

 

22 Sep
Sunday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

Cleveland maintained its advantage for the second AL wild card spot with a 4-1 decision on Saturday, handing the Astros their 8th-straight defeat and 104th loss of the campaign. Pulling off the sweep Sunday falls to Indians righthander Corey Kluber while Houston turns to Erik Bedard in hopes of avoiding the brooms. MLB odds for the matchup are much like they have been for the first three games with the Tribe big chalk around -250. The total bounced between 8 and 8.5 runs overnight, settling at 8 (U-115) Sunday morning.

Houston Offense MIA During Current Skid

The Astros have scored one run in each of the first three games of this set, and only 12 during the losing streak. Five of those came in an extra-inning loss to the Reds on Wednesday, so Bedard takes the mound knowing he can ill-afford to let the Indians put up a quick crooked inning. 

It's tough to imagine the lefty lasting more than 4-5 innings, so even if he can keep Cleveland hitters at bay, Houston relievers will be called upon early, not a good thing considering the Astros bullpen ranks last in the majors with a 4.97 ERA. Bedard faced the Indians back in April, working just four innings and allowing two runs while striking out eight. 

Cleveland is a perfect 3-0 in Kluber's assignments since he came off the DL earlier this month. He's still building up his pitch count after the month-long layoff, so five, maybe six innings is all we should expect from him. Kluber blanked the Astros in a 4-inning relief appearance in that April series, picking up the win is his only career experience against Houston.

Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick 

CB Bucknor, one of the least qualified MLB umps, will call balls and strikes on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. The native of Jamaica has a 13-17-1 O/U/P record on the season, 2-8-1 his last 11 plate assignments. Home chalk has dropped 11 of 20 with Bucknor behind the dish. 

A small chance of rain continues for the Cleveland area, but isn't expected to stop the series finale from being played to its fullest. Cloudy skies will keep the temperature down around 60º for most of the contest with a 10-12 mph north wind (in from left) making it feel even cooler. 

[gameodds]3/243832/?r-1=19-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

You should know the drill by now: I'm fading the Astros to the bitter end of this season, though I know it's no fun for most bettors to lay $2.50 in a contest like this. With Houston's offense in the dumps, a run-line play is my best offer for a free pick.

My pick: Indians -1.5 (-120) at Bet365

 

21 Sep
Saturday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

Give assists to Mother Nature and the Houston Astros defense in Friday's 2-1 victory for the Cleveland Indians. Rain shortened the game to 6½ innings, and Houston errors led to both Indians runs as Clevelandmanaged to leapfrog the Rangers in the AL Wild Card race, thanks to the Royals topping Texas by the same score in their series opener at Kansas City.

The Tribe now sits just a half-game behind Tampa Bay at the top of the wild card ranks, and a half-game ahead of the Rangers who have the lowly Astros on their slate next week. MLB odds for Game 3 have the Indians even bigger favorites than the first two contests. Cleveland is heavy -260 chalk with Scott Kazmir on the mound; Houston counters with Paul Clemens and the 8.5 run total favors the UNDER.

Kazmir Off Two Losses, Clemens Making 4th MLB Start

Thirty relief appearances is how Clemens' season and MLB career started before the Astros moved him into the rotation at the end of August. The former 7th-round pick by Atlanta in 2008 has two quality starts in his three assignments, but all three ended in defeat for Houston. Clemens has been very susceptible to the long ball, 15 in just over 63 innings, a rate that would work out to 47+ in a 200-IP season. 

Kazmir's last two outings were losses at the hands of the Royals, the most recent on Monday in the seriesopener in Kansas City. The setbacks followed one of his best outings of the campaign, six scoreless frames vs. the Mets with a season-high 12 K's. His home/road splits aren't too different in the ERA column, but the end results are distinctive with the Indians 9-4 when Kazmir pitches at home as opposed to 4-10 on the road. 

Clemens and Kazmir appeared in the same boxscore on April 20 in Houston. Kazmir started for the Indians and was gone in the fourth having surrendered six runs, including a pair of homers in what was his 2013 debut. Clemens came on in relief and posted 3.1 innings of 1-hit, scoreless baseball, definitely the best mound work by a Houston pitcher that day in a 19-6 Cleveland rout. 

Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick 

Jordan Baker, about to complete his first full season calling games in the majors, works the dish on Saturday. The big guy has been pretty level in the totals column (13-14-2 O/U/P) as well as a friend to bettors riding home chalk in 2013 with favorites 16-5 in their own parks.

Kazmir is expected to deliver the first pitch at 6:05 PM (ET), at which time Cleveland should be starting to dry out from rain that is expected to fall through the afternoon. The start of the game might be delayed, but expect a full nine innings eventually with temps in the low-60s and a 6-10 mph NW breeze (left to right). 

[gameodds]3/243790/?r-1=19-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

I'll be fading the Astros once again; if -260 is out of your price range, UNDER would be my suggestion for afree pick

My pick: Astros-Indians Under 8.5 (-115) at Bet365

 

20 Sep
Friday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 


Early on in Game 1 of the series between the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, it looked like we might see the offense I was expecting. But the bats fizzled out after the second inning and we were left with a 2-1 Tribe victory in 11 innings.

We have a virtual repeat of the MLB odds for Game 2 when Brett Oberholtzer and Zach McAllister square off on the mound.Cleveland is chalked up in the -220 to -230 range with an 8 run total that is taxed a little more to the high side. 

Oberholtzer Out to Snap 2-Game Skid

As someone who has been fading the Astros all season, watching Oberholtzer has been bittersweet for the Houston fan in me.Houston has won five of his eight starts since being inserted into the rotation at the end of July, each of the wins averaging a 1.7 unit return for anyone following the 'Stros in those contests. 

Fading Oberholtzer has paid off the last two times he has been on the hill; the beefy southpaw pitched well enough to beat the Athletics in a 2-1 loss at Oakland on Sept. 7 followed by a 6-IP, 4-ER performance in a loss to the Angels last Saturday.His MLB debut came in a relief outing vs. the Indians back in April at home, solo shots by Carlos Santana and Drew Stubbs accounting for the two runs Oberholtzer allowed. 

McAllister is coming off a solid performance in Chicago against the White Sox on Sunday, pitching into the seventh and surrendering a run in the 7-1 triumph.He had given up 13 runs in just over 13 innings his previous three assignments, two of them going in the loss column for him and the Tribe.Home runs have hurt the 25-year-old Illinois native at home, eight in 64 frames compared to four in 61 away innings, but the Indians are 7-4 when McAllister pitches in front of the home crowd.Friday will be the first time he has faced the Astros. 

Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick 

Plate duty falls to Todd Tichenor with his 14-15-2 O/U/P and 15-16 home/away splits on the season.Four of his last five appearances behind the mask stayed UNDER the mark, and he worked McAllister's first start of the season at Tampa Bay which also failed to reach the total. 

Check out today's baseball betting odds report to stay ahead of the bookies~

[gameodds]3/243767/?r-1=19-349-43-192/us[/gameodds]

All signs point to a wet day in Cleveland, and possibly a wetter night.There's a 50% chance of rain delaying the start of the contest, and the likelihood of a shower increases as the evening wears on. 

Religiously, I'm fading the Astros, but you might consider a play on Houston.The Astros are on a 6-game skid, the sixth time they've lost six in a row.They've yet to lose seven straight.It's your call on the side, and my free MLB pick call is on the UNDER.

My pick: Astros-Indians Under 8 (+100) at Bet365