The Cleveland Indians made easy work out of in-state opponent, the Cincinnati Reds, with a 6-2 win on Monday night. The win for the Indians gave them their fourth win a row, as they look to extend their lead in the American League Central. A team who just made a World Series appearance by playing the underdog role, is in those same shoes again in 2017. While the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox are taking the spotlight, the Indians are in the shadows looking to prove people wrong again. In a condensed series, that is the postseason, the Indians could very well beat all of those teams I just mentioned.
Corey Kluber is lighting the ball on fire and could foreseeably take control of those lineups. The Astros have an impressive offense, but I always take pitching over hitting any day of the week. So then, if Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger play up to an elite level in October, there you have a scenario where the Indians could march all the way back to the World Series. Salazar just came back from rehab and torched opposing hitters, a promising sign for a team who will need all horses in the stable to be hitting their stride when the time comes.
Clevinger will have his chance to show-off tonight against the Angels. He’s been nothing but spectacular lately, anchoring what is an impressive pitching unit in Cleveland. Don’t forget, this bullpen is better than any of the above-mentioned teams in the American League. Never discount how important a bullpen is in the postseason. Twelve-year veteran Jesse Chavez will start opposite Clevinger for the Angels. The Angels, who are well behind the Astros, are going to be grinding it out for a wildcard the rest of the season. Find our Angels vs. Indians pick below.
L.A. Angels vs. Cleveland Indians Pick
Jesse Chavez (5-10, 4.88 ERA) vs. Mike Clevinger (5-3, 2.73 ERA)
Clevinger hasn’t allowed a run since three starts ago against the Tigers. In total, in his last four starts, he’s allowed just 2 runs and an average of 2.5 hits per game. In his last three outings, Clevinger posted a whopping 0.50 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. These are the kind of results that could be the deciding factor between an early-exit and long ride in the postseason. Throw in Carrasco and Kluber pitching at a high-level, along with the bullpen, and the Indians will not be an easy out in the postseason. Clevinger owns an overall ERA of 2.73 in 2017. Further, the bullpen is 1st in the majors, with an ERA of 2.82.
Jesse Chavez is what he is. He’s a good enough pitcher to find a spot in a rotation, but he’s not good, just an average option. His ERA has regressed ever since he tossed a 3.45 with the A’s in 2014. From 4.18 to 4.57 a year ago, and now he comes into tonight with an ERA of 4.88. Chavez has been getting rocked on the road, posting a 6.10 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. I expect Clevinger and the Indians to take care of business again tonight. They defeat the Angels en route to their fifth win a row, solidifying their 1st place position in the AL Central.
PICK: INDIANS -1.5 (+120)