The Cleveland Indians are in Chicago Tuesday for game two of a four-game series with their American League Central Division rivals, the White Sox. The Indians took game one last night 4-0, powered by a dominant start from Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco threw seven innings of stellar work. He gave up no runs on just two hits and struck out eleven along the way. The win marked Cleveland’s six win in their last seven games as they continue to run away with the AL Central lead. The rebuilding year continues in Chicago as the White Sox already find themselves completely out of contention at thirteen games back of the Indians for the division lead.
Starting tonight for the White Sox is James Shields (1-7 4.92 ERA), and for the Indians, it is Adam Plutko (3-0 3.93 ERA). The Indians are -140 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
The Cleveland Indians started out a little slow this season, but as expected, they are still easily leading the AL Central. In what is almost certainly the weakest division in all of baseball, the Indians just haven’t been challenged much at all. No other team in the Central is even above .500, and there is a good chance it stays that way this year. Kansas City, Chicago, and Detroit are all very clearly rebuilding this year, and I would expect them to trade off any parts that any other team may want at the trade deadline to continue that process.
That leaves just the Minnesota Twins as contenders in the Central, and they are a miserable 28-34 and are showing zero signs of life as the season moves into its second trimester. So, really, the Indians can kind of name their own pace this year. They could probably win the division with 80 wins, so why push for any more than that? This patch of schedule they are in right now should produce a bunch of wins.
The Indians just took two out of three from the Tigers and now face the White Sox for four, the Twins for three, the White Sox for three, and the Tigers for three. That is a stretch of games where the Indians are going to be favored in just about every game, and this may be the end of the AL Central race for the season as they could get their lead to double digits by the end of this run.
Starting tonight for the Indians is Adam Plutko. Plutko has been up and down between the majors and the minors this season but has acquitted himself well on the big-league level when given the opportunity. Plutko is 3-0 in three starts with a respectable ERA of 3.93. He won his last start on May 28th against these very same Chicago White Sox. After that win, he was optioned back to triple-A where he then threw a no-hitter in his next start for the Columbus Clippers. He gets a chance to rejoin the rotation today as the Indians have sent Josh Tomlin to the bullpen. He should enjoy his time on the mound today as the White Sox are twenty-seventh in the majors in runs scored.
Starting today for the White Sox is James Shields. There was a time when the name James Shields invoked fear into opposing lineups. Those days are long gone now though as Shields has become a punching bag late in his career. Shields has one of the worst records in the American League at just 1-7, and his ERA is 4.92. That one win? It came on opening day. Since then he is 0-7, and the White Sox have lost nine out of his last eleven starts.
Given the opportunity to back a team that wants to win against a team that could care less, I am almost always going to back the team that is trying to win. When you are going to lose a hundred games like this White Sox team is this year, you just never know what to expect. Maybe the skipper is going to try and prove a point and leave his starter in much longer than he should or bench the best hitter in the lineup because he caused a scene in the locker room. When you don’t care about wins, and you are just trying to teach young guys the game, you can see some very strange things. All that mystery makes a team like this Chicago one very hard to back.
If you read my daily picks, you know I like to bet underdogs. I just see a lot of value in getting dog money on games rather than laying wood on them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t spots where backing the favorites can be the best play. This game opened at Cleveland -130 and has been on the move all morning long. Getting to back a much, much better team at this reasonable of a price has been enticing to the early morning betting sharps, and the number has been on the move.
I would expect that the number will continue to move towards Cleveland today as the White Sox don’t get too much public action either. So, where it stands now at Cleveland -140 I still like a play on the Indians. But if this number moves much further, I will have to lay off. It is just really hard to show a long-term profit laying -150 or more on a game, so I just won’t do it very often. If you like the Indians in this one, you need to bet it now before it moves again! Give me the Cleveland Indians at -140 tonight in game two from Chicago!