The Indians Will Come Out Strong in the 1st 5 vs the Red Sox

Rainman M.

Monday, July 31, 2017 1:59 PM UTC

Monday, Jul. 31, 2017 1:59 PM UTC

The Indians take a 9-1 run into Fenway Park. Will the Red Sox find a groove behind spot starter Doug Fister?

Indians vs Red Sox 1st 5

The Indians’ 9-game win streak came to an end when they failed to sweep the White Sox. They’ll look to maintain their two-game lead in the AL Central when they face the Red Sox. Doug Fister will start for Boston in place of the injured David Price. Fister is especially vulnerable to left-handed batters and some of Cleveland’s strongest hitters can hit from the left side. Outfielder Michael Brantley, for instance, is 11-for-30 (.367) with 3 doubles and 2 home runs in his career vs Fister. The Red Sox haven’t won consecutive games in almost two weeks. They’ll look to bridge the half-game gap between themselves and the AL East-leading Yankees by beginning their series at home vs Cleveland with a win.

Mike Clevinger (5-3 3.20 ERA) starts for Cleveland. Clevinger’s streak of 4 consecutive quality starts came to an end at home against the Angels. In that game, he survived the first 3 innings unscathed. Supported with a tremendous 7-0 lead, Clevinger lost his concentration and flow in the 4th. He showed in that inning how he can be his own worst enemy.  He uncharacteristically left a couple balls over the plate that both a slumping Kole Calhoun and Luis Valbuena hit for a home run. He allowed a couple of base runners due to defensive lapses committed by Jose Ramirez.  Worst of all, he often fell behind in the count and issued walks due to his general loss of command.

Clevinger is normally a pitcher who sees a lot of long, grinding at-bats because he does not like to throw pitches so much inside the strike zone—only 41.4% of his pitches so far are in the zone. He likes to work especially the lower parts of the strike zone, especially the corners. His pitching style entails a lot of near misses of the strike zone and ultimately a lot of pitches. When he had this 7 run lead against the Angels, he wavered between becoming more aggressive and throwing more pitches for strikes—which is what pitchers with large leads are more likely to do because they have greater margin for error—and doing what he normally does—grinding long at-bats by working the less hittable parts of the strike zone. In sum, he lost his flow because he did not know how to pitch with such a huge lead. He was too inexperienced in such a situation, but also unlucky given the poor defensive play behind him, which should have helped him more. Clevinger’s career ERA is 5.56 with 6+ runs scored. He’ll look to resume his dominance on the mound in Boston, against a lineup laden with solid right-handed batters who are at a disadvantage against the right-handed Clevinger. Boston’s OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is around .730) against right-handed pitchers is just .725 this season, compared to .771 vs southpaws.

Doug Fister (0-5 7.46 ERA) starts for Boston. Fister is a veteran who had played for 4 different organizations before joining Boston in 2017. He has repeatedly rotated between being a starter and a reliever. He is only starting tonight because David Price is injured. He is being blessed with a chance to impress his coaches, but he has been anything but impressive this season. He is having atrocious problems with command and is walking batters and giving home runs at a very high rate.  He is struggling to throw a first pitch strike, doing so at a below-average rate. He is struggling in general to throw strikes. Opposing batters are comfortable at the plate against him not least because his inaccuracy repeatedly allows them to start ahead in the count. They are rarely swinging at the pitches that he throws outside the zone, meaning that his stuff is ineffective. They are able to be selective in deciding what pitches to swing at. And they are getting a lot of pitches in the more hittable parts of the plate to hit. Fister is unable to compensate for his difficulties with location because he is a pitcher who relies above all on location. He does not throw hard and he is failing to achieve the kind of movement in his primary pitches that he did in his last successful seasons, from 2011-2014. Fister has been bad and he’s been bad for several years, which is why other organizations are unwilling to hang onto him. He achieved a 4.50 ERA in just one game this year. In every other game, his ERA was above 5. He’ll try to impress—and surprise—his managers by deterring a hot Indians’ lineup whose OPS is .963 in the past 7 days.

The Verdict

The Indians are at a pretty cheap price because the market does not account for form. Clevinger, who is enjoying a much better season than in 2016, is still undervalued. Cleveland is not as heavily juiced because they are on the road. But, Clevinger has had his largest success on the road. His ERA is 4.41 at home but 2.15 outside of Cleveland. Fister’s poor form this season and Cleveland’s current hot run are also factors that the market is not accounting for. Cleveland should do damage against Fister and procure an early lead for their young sensation Clevinger on our MLB picks. There is significant value in the First 5 RL at +Money  betting odds.

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 Free MLB Pick: Indians First 5 RL -1/2
Best Line Offered: (+125) at Bet Online
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