Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros – MLB July 21

8:10 p.m. ET – Indians at Astros (-235 ML) O/U: 8.5

The 47-45 Indians close out a three-game set against the 58-38 Astros on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. Cleveland picked up a huge series win in Oakland over the past weekend, even after giving up a walk-off home run in the opening game. Houston started its second half on the South Side of Chicago, where the Astros lost two of three to the American League Central leading White Sox. The first two games of this season have gone to the Astros, including a 9-3 win in Game Two, led by a 3-for-3 performance at the plate from Michael Brantley, who also added two-RBI to his stat line.

The Indians are looking forward to getting out of Houston, considering they are now 0-6 this season against the Astros.

About the Indians

Cleveland Indians LogoCleveland currently resides in second place in the American League Central, 9.5 games behind the first-place White Sox. The Indians are one of three teams in Major League Baseball that have an on-base percentage under .300. Third baseman Jose Ramirez leads the team with 19 home runs and is hitting .254 this season.

Filling in nicely as the team’s No.1 batter in the absence of Francisco Lindor, who was traded to the Mets after last season. Right fielder Franmil Reyes has been a pleasant surprise this season and he is on fire right now, batting .298 with six home runs and 16 RBI in his last 15 games. Shortstop Amed Rosario, who is only 25 years old, came over in the Lindor trade this offseason from the Mets, and so far he has produced at a higher level than Lindor, batting .269 in 2021.

The pitching staff was keeping the team afloat for much of the first half of the season, but 2020 American League Cy Young winner Shane Bieber has been out for roughly a month with a shoulder injury, joining fellow starter Adam Civale on the injured list. The front office is unlikely to be a buyer at the trade deadline, as the team has the lowest payroll in all of Major League Baseball. If Cleveland wants to play meaningful baseball in September, it will need  some unlikely candidates to step up in both the batting order and starting rotation.

About the Astros

Houston Astros LogoHouston currently sits atop the American League West, 3.5 games ahead of the second-place Athletics. The Astros are the highest-scoring offense in Major League Baseball, scoring 5.4 runs per game in 2021. Houston left fielder Michael Brantley leads the team with a .336 batting average and has started the second half right where he left off, batting .435 since.

Former MVP Jose Altuve is having a monster year, hitting .275 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI. Altuve has gone from one of the most beloved players in the league to one of the most hated due to the cheating scandal that placed an asterisk next to Houston’s 2017 World Series championship for many. He has silenced the doubters this season and proved that he does not need any assistance to play at an All-Star level. Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, who is only 24, has emerged as a superstar talent in 2021, hitting .286 with 17 long balls and 60 RBI.

The Astros undoubtedly possess one of the deepest lineups in all of baseball, but the pitching staff has been overlooked by many this season. Houston has a team ERA of 3.64, the ninth- lowest in the big leagues, which is a credit in large part to a starting rotation that has not skipped a beat even after losing Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in a two-year stretch. The American League West race is far from over with Oakland breathing down Houston’s neck, but the Astros have established themselves as a team that will be in the thick of things come October.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Cleveland Indians +1½ (+105) +190 O 8½ (-115)
Houston Astros -1½ (-125) -235 U 8½ (-105)

The Pitching Matchup

Right-hander Eli Morgan is toeing the rubber for the Indians on Wednesday night. Morgan is 1-3 with a 7.86 ERA in 26.1 innings across six starts this season. He allowed three runs in five innings of his last start against the Athletics.

Houston is turning to Lance McCullers Jr. for the series finale to try and complete the sweep. McCullers is 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 86.2 innings of work across 15 starts in 2021. He allowed just one run in seven innings in his last outing against the White Sox.

What’s the Bet?
The best bet for this matchup is to target the starting pitching matchup and make a bet on the first five innings. The Astros are the better team, but with them being massive favorites in both the first five innings and for the game, there is no value in taking Houston to improve to 7-0 against the Indians on Wednesday night. Instead, look to take the Over of 4.5 runs for the first five innings in the series finale. Eli Morgan has been inconsistent in his six starts this season and the worst possible matchup to see is a loaded Astros lineup on the other side.

Meanwhile, McCullers Jr. looks better on paper than he has been in reality this season, as he has allowed a decent amount of hard contact this season.

Houston should be able to get 3-4 runs off of Morgan in this one and Cleveland should be able to scratch across a few runs to push the first five Over/Under total well past the Over of 4.5 runs.
The Pick
First Five Innings Over 4.5 Runs

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

Sub Categories:
Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.