Cleveland and Houston have split two games so far this season, by identical scores of 2-0. Might we expect another low-scoring affair for Thursday afternoon's series rubber match?
Indians-Astros Betting Odds
The MLB betting odds opened this game, which matches second-year starter Trevor Bauer and Cleveland against Houston with rookie Asher Wojciechowski, at right around a pick 'em, with a total of 8.5 runs. In the early betting the Indians had been bet into a short favorite, while the total was holding steady.
Indians-Astros: Rubber Match
Cleveland got this series to even with a 2-0 victory Wednesday night. Indians starter Carlos Carrasco threw 6 1/3 innings of three-hit, scoreless ball, striking out 10, while Carlos Santana and Mike Aviles bopped solo homers. The Indians won as -120 betting favorites, and the game, to our delight, never approached its total of 8.5 runs.
Houston starter Scott Feldman fashioned a quality outing Wednesday, limiting the Tribe to just five hits through 6 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out five. His only real problem was getting zero help from the Astros offense, which now, through the first two games of this season, owns seven hits and 20 strikeouts.
Wojciechowski, a former No. 1 draft pick of Toronto, will be making his ML debut Thursday. Last summer the big righty went 4-4 with a 4.74 ERA at AAA Oklahoma City, which doesn't exactly impress, but he did have a fine Spring down in the Grapefruit League, giving up just three ER over 21 innings of work.
In five seasons in the Minors Wojciechowski compiled a 35-26 record and a 3.75 ERA.
Bauer is beginning his second season as a starter in the Bigs. Last season the former UCLA Bruin went 5-8 with a 4.18 ERA, going just eight-for-26 on quality starts (by our strict accounting), allowing 151 hits in 153 innings, walking 60 while striking out 143. Cleveland went 13-13 in Bauer's starts last season, with the totals going 13-12.
Bauer started once last year against Houston, throwing six innings of four-hit, shutout ball, walking three while whiffing nine in a 3-1 Indians victory.
Indians-Astros Betting Trends
Going back to the start of last season the last nine meetings between these two teams have all played UNDER on the totals.
On the injury front Cleveland OF Michael Brantley, who hit .327 with 20 homers and 23 steals last season, missed Wednesday's game with a sore back, and is questionable to play today.
Indians-Astros Free Pick
Neither team is having much success at the bat so far this season, combining to score four runs through the first two games of this series, and we're thinking something similar will happen today. Bauer had a great outing against Houston last year, and Cleveland's bats have never seen Wojciechowski, which should give the rookie a bit of an advantage, at least for the first couple of times through the lineup. So just like yesterday, we like the UNDER for Thursday's MLB picks.
Free MLB Pick: UNDER 8.5 runs at BetOnline