As the Cleveland Cavaliers move forward to the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Indians square off with the Boston Red Sox at the historic Fenway Park. For the Tribe, the first month and a half of the season has been viewed as a success. Ahead of the Tigers and the Royals in the division? Oh yeah, there is nothing wrong with that, and the AL Central has looked a whole heck of a lot wide open than first anticipated. That may dissipate as the season moves on, but a lot of people were expecting the Royals to run away with it and the Tigers trailing behind. Instead, the division has been turned upside down, mainly by the White Sox who just won again last night. The White Sox and Indians currently lead the way, with the Tigers and Royals trailing behind. The Twins are an afterthought right now and find themselves out of the picture tenfold. Corey Kluber and Clay Buchholz get the start tonight at Fenway.
A couple years ago this would have been some kind of pitching matchup. You would have had to stop and pay attention to this duel in Boston. Fast forward to 2016 and the merits of this being a duel are significantly diminished. Right now, it easy to compare Corey Kluber to Dallas Keuchel. Cy Young products not that long ago, but now face the prospect of going into June with ERA’s above 4.00. The elite will find ways to confuse hitters, while the ones who have one or two years and don’t evolve, will be easily figured out by the opposition at the plate. We see that happening a bit with Kluber.
Buchholz has been difficult to pinpoint. He has looked like the best pitcher in baseball some years, and then look like a joke in another. In 2013 he had an ERA of 1.74, in 2014 that went all the way up to 5.34, and then 3.26 last season. Now look at where he’s at now. One thing is true, the Red Sox have been punishing pitchers, and their offense has been on fire. Pitching in this offense has been pretty nice given all of the run support.
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
Corey Kluber (2-5, 4.30 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (2-3, 6.11 ERA)
Nothing has really been going well for Buchholz this season. He has had one or two solid starts, but it’s been a pile of mush otherwise. Holding him back has been multiple games where he has allowed 5 runs. Not a couple of times, but Buchholz has been lit up on multiple occasions already in this young season. Note that he has had five starts where he’s given up 5 runs, which is a pretty poor percentage given he has only had eight starts in 2016. You can do the math. In his last three starts, he has posted an ERA of 5.50 with a 1.28 WHIP. The ball has been flying off his bat, as he has given up 8 home runs in eight games.
The Red Sox have been hammering most of the pitchers they’ve come across in 2016. The offense has been potent and putting up gaudy numbers. They have scored at least 5 runs in 8-2 of their last ten games. Including 5-5 where they have scored more than 10 runs. They have hit right-handers at a clip of .297 this season. Kluber hasn’t had many good outings against the Red Sox, heading into tonight with a 5.14 ERA against Boston. The OVER has gone 8-0-1 in their last nine home games. The OVER is 8-1-1 in their last ten overall, and 6-2 in their last ten meetings against the Indians. The Indians have averaged 12 runs per game in their last three games. We cannot ignore the hot bats. I like this game to go OVER 8.5.
PICK: OVER 8.5 RUNS (-110)