The Texas Rangers curb stomped the Cleveland Indians last night to make for their third loss in a row. It isn’t too much of a problem for them, as they’ve asserted themselves nicely atop the American League East. However, they better not allow it to balloon into a week-long losing streak, because the Tigers are not too far behind them now. It felt like yesterday that the Indians were about to blow the division wide open with an eight-game division lead. While they are still sitting comfortable with a 4.5 game lead, the Tigers are within striking distance. If the Indians want to botch the last few weeks of the regular season, then we might see the Tigers start to creep up into the equation. After getting demolished by a score of 9-0 last night, the Indians will get Corey Kluber on the mound to face Martin Perez.
It’s been generally good news for Kluber this season. Cy Young material? No, not quite there, but he’s been pitching pretty well, much better than earlier in the season. The Indians are a far better team overall this season, and it’s helped Kluber out immensely. This division was supposed to be there for the Kansas City Royals, with the Tigers competing, yet trailing just behind. Swap the Indians with the Royals and that’s the picture we were anticipating. Remember how strong the Chicago White Sox came on across the first month of the season? That is all but a distant memory, as they’re 61-65 and 11 games back of the lead. We turn to Texas on Friday, for this battle between two 1st place teams of their respective divisions.
Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers
Corey Kluber (13-8, 3.13 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (8-9, 4.27 ERA)
Kluber has been an integral part to the Indians’ resurgence, taking a team without any direction, and becoming the catalyst of the pitching staff. The Tribe long went without a guy like Kluber, and he’s been playing the part as an ace pretty well. Kluber enters this evening with a 3.13 ERA, including a 1.04 WHIP. He’s been pitching pretty well lately, with a posted ERA of 2.89 in his last three games. Kluber hasn’t necessarily been stellar against the Rangers, yielding a 4.29 ERA against them. Not bad but certainly not great. He’s been a tad worse on the road, with a 3.31 ERA compared to 2.94 at home.
Perez has only had one start against the Indians, a game in which he was blown away, as he finished with a whopping 18.00 ERA and 3.67 WHIP in 3 innings pitched. He’s been a tad streaky this season, as his past three games have demonstrated, allowing 1 run in each against the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies, then getting torched for 6 against the Rays. There is something there though, as his shoddy start came on the road, and his good outings were at home. It’s been like that for Perez all season long. He sports a 1-8 record and 6.23 ERA on the road and a 7-1 record and 2.36 ERA at home. The Rangers have been strong in Arlington throughout the year, posting a 39-20 record, whereas they are 35-33 away from home. Conversely, the Indians are 33-30 on the road. I think the Indians are being a bit overvalued in this game. They should be slight favorites, but not this high. It lends itself to the underdog and the 1st place Rangers on Friday.
PICK: RANGERS TO WIN +120