The Cleveland Indians keep marching forward towards their improbable run in the American League Central. Despite a blemish yesterday, which saw their five-game winning streak come to an end, the Indians are still sitting pretty atop the division with a 5.5 game lead. The Tigers won yesterday, so they were able to play a little bit of catch up on Cleveland. Thanks to that five-game run, the Indians have some distance between them and the Tigers.
If not, they both would be going toe-to-toe. Detroit has been playing good baseball as well, however it’s been a difficult task catching the Indians, due to the fact that they keep winning as well. It’s like a team down in a basketball game trading points with the opposition, it’s just a matter of treading water and going nowhere but stationary.
The Tigers, however, with their win over the Royals yesterday, moved into the final wildcard for the play-in game. A one and done scenario. It makes for an exciting game after long months of baseball every day, as it all comes down to one game. Detroit is well equipped to win a game like that. Their pitching scares me across a full series, which I think will prevent them from going far if they make the postseason. However, in the Wild Card Round, don’t discount Justin Verlander looking like vintage JV and Michael Fulmer at the ready in the bullpen if they need some help. Coupled with their offense, the Tigers might be able to garner some momentum in that game.
But back to our game tonight, between the Astros and Indians. The Tigers don’t want either team to win, with the ‘Stros chasing the Tigers for the final wildcard, and the Indians leading the way in the division. Realistically, at this point, the concern should be on just making the postseason and pulling for the Indians in this game. It’s really a catch-22 situation, though. Read on below, as we look to conclude the regular season with a strong push on an already profitable year.
Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Indians
Mike Fiers (9-6, 4.31 ERA) vs Mike Clevinger (2-1, 5.30 ERA)
Rookie Mike Clevinger will be making a spot start on Labor Day. He wasn’t scheduled to start, but due to Josh Tomlin getting bombed, Terry Francona opted to turn to the bullpen for a starter. Clevinger has been seeing action out of the bullpen for the past three weeks. He will be on a pitch count in this outing. Clevinger’s first appearances in the majors was as a starter, where he got worked for 14 runs and only three starts. He went to the minors after, and came back to Cleveland as a member of the bullpen. Mike Fiers will be opposite Clevinger tonight for Houston.
The Astros came into the season as a World Series favorite. Not just to reach the World Series, but to win it. Enter September and the Astros are 2 games back of finding a wildcard. They were able to salvage their weekend series against the Texas Rangers, winning 7-6 to avoid a sweep. The pitching was off, allowing an average of 9.3 runs in three days. Fiers has not looked good on the road, posting an ERA of 5.57 and 1.51 WHIP. He had one good start against the Indians in his career, but I don’t put too much weight into a single outing. Clevinger has notched a 4.50 ERA and 1.64 WHIP has last three appearances. With him starting, there is also one less quality arm in the bullpen. And like I said, he will be on a pitch count. The OVER 8.5 looks like a pretty good bet for Labor Day on the bases.
PICK: OVER 8.5 RUNS (-120)