The division title races are tightening up, and the final three weeks of the Major League Baseball season should be one of the most exciting finishes we have ever seen. And if you thought the division title races were close, take a look at the wild card races, as nearly every team in the game has a mathematical shot at the postseason with just a handful of games left on the schedule.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) September 12, 2020
There are a bunch of games on the slate today that have huge playoff implications. The Yankees and the Orioles match up with New York clinging to the final playoff spot in the American League, and the Orioles just three and a half games back. The Phillies and Marlins play in South Beach, with just a half of a game separating the two for second place in the NL East.
The Milwaukee Brewers are trying to backdoor into the playoffs after a slow start and will look to make it two in a row over the Chicago Cubs, as they try and catch the Cubs from behind in the NL Central. And the Reds and Cardinals square off in St. Louis, with both teams scrambling to stay relevant in the NL. For our free daily betting pick, we will focus on the biggest matchup of the day, as the Minnesota Twins host the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland Indians (26-19) at Minnesota Twins (28-18)
The American League Central Division looks to be the best in baseball as the trio of teams atop the division, the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota Twins, all have stellar records and are locks to make the postseason. No other division can tout three teams as good as the central, and two of those teams match up this weekend in Minneapolis.
The Twins took game one last night, 3-1, behind a quality start from Kenta Maeda, to take the series lead. The Twins are now 8-2 in September. For Cleveland, the Indians are suddenly reeling, as after starting the month out by winning five out of their first six games, they have now lost a season-high, four straight games.
Starting tonight for the Twins is Rich Hill (1-1 3.86 ERA), and for the Indians, it is Zach Plesac (3-1 1.32 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight runs. The game is currently an even pick ’em with both teams laying -105. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 PM PST from Target Field in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Twins are making a hard charge towards the division title as they have won eight out of their last ten games. The problem for Minnesota hasn’t been their ability win games, it has been that the Chicago White Sox just won’t lose! Chicago has gone 18-5 in their last 23 games, and despite the Twins winning nearly every night this month, the Sox have managed to hang onto first place in the division.
The division title will be on the line next week as Minnesota and Chicago matchup in the Windy City for a four-game set that will decide the division. But the Twins have to take care of business this weekend against the Indians, or they could find themselves in too big of a hole to dig out of by the time they get to Chicago.
Rich Hill (1-1 3.86 ERA)
Rich Hill plays the role of a hired gun to perfection. Hill has played for nine different teams in his sixteen-year career and has had success just about everywhere that he has been. Even at forty years old this year, he is still a quality arm that can be relied upon. The Twins brought him in during the offseason to give them some veteran leadership and a guy with lots of playoff experience, and he has pitched well.
Hill missed a couple of weeks with an injury earlier this year and got roughed up in his first outing coming off of the IL, but in his last three starts, he has looked like vintage Rich Hill. In his last three starts, Hill has tossed a combined 13.1 innings and has allowed just five earned runs. That is good for a 3.38 ERA. The days of Hill getting deep into games are long over, and he is only good for four or five innings at this point, but when he is in the game, he is going to get you quality work.
The Cleveland Indians have had more than their fair share of struggles at the plate this season. The Indians are 25th in the game in runs scored and homers, and 28th in slugging. But even with their notable season-long struggles to hit the baseball, it has been somewhat shocking to see what they have done at the plate in their last three games.
In their last three games, the Indians have scored a total of just two runs. Yeah, Kenta Maeda in yesterday’s game has been tough to score on all season long, so the Tribe getting blanked in that one wasn’t all that shocking. But they also got shut down by the Kansas City Royals in back to back games, with Danny Duffy and Brady Singer on the mound, both guys that had ERAs approaching five runs on the year, and neither are top of the rotation type of guys.
Zach Plesac (3-1 1.32 ERA)
The main reason the Indians are still in the playoff picture with their abysmal batting has been their elite pitching staff. The Indians have had one of the best bullpens in the game all year long, and their starting pitching has been light’s out. Even with the loss of ace level starter, Mike Clevinger, Cleveland still has one of the most feared starting rotations in the American League.
Zach Plesac has stepped into the Indian’s rotation this season and has been nearly unhittable. Plesac has a 1.32 ERA in five starts this year. He did miss a couple of weeks last month when he violated team COVID-19 protocols, but since rejoining the team, he has been very hard to hit. In his last three starts, Plesac has pitched a total of 21 innings and has allowed just two runs. The Indians won all three games with a combined score of 22-4.
Who Do I Like?
This number is a sharp one. The teams are priced evenly, and in my book, this is a true coin flip game, and I could see either team finding a way to win it. I would lean towards the Twins, as they are red-hot right now, and the Indians have lost four straight. But betting against Zach Plesac, with how he is pitching right now, just isn’t something that I want to do.
So, I will pass on having a strong opinion on a side in this game, and instead, I will focus on the game total. We already talked about how bad the Indians have been at the plate this season, especially recently. But the Twins have surprisingly struggled at the dish as well. After being the hardest-hitting team in MLB history last year when they blasted 307 home runs, they are just ninth in the league in homers this year and are 17th in runs scored.
These two teams have matched up eight times already this season. In seven of those games, they have combined for six runs or fewer. The highest-scoring game these teams have played this year was just nine runs, and in that game, they scored three of the runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. These teams just don’t score very often when they play each other.
Which I guess is quite understandable given the fact that they are in a tight race in their division, with every game meaning a lot. Playoff baseball is almost always lower scoring, and this year, every game that these two teams have played has basically been a playoff game. Tonight, is no different, as this game means a lot to both teams, and they are going to have to fight for every run.
I think Rich Hill will be solid, and Zach Plesac will be even better. The Indians lineup just cannot be trusted right now, and the Twins know they won’t need to score a lot to win this game. It won’t go under by a lot, but this feels like a 4-3 game if you ask me. So, I will jump on the under eight runs tonight and expect yet another tightly contested and low scoring game between the Indians and the Twins!