Our sizzling hot May continued last night as we picked up yet another win, to run our record to 5-1 on the week, with four of those five wins coming on outright underdogs. Last night was the biggest payout of the week as somehow, I got to back the Houston Astros, likely the best team in the major leagues right now, as home dogs, getting +127. Yeah, I had to fade Cy Young Award-winning starter Chris Sale of the defending champion Boston Red Sox to get such a sweet price, but in the end, I felt that we were on the right side of things, so I took a shot at a big payout.
Chris Sale has matched up with Wade Miley twice in the last two weeks, and Miley has outpitched Sale both times. Now, I am not saying that Miley is a better pitcher than Sale, but right now, Sale is just not himself. Sale gave up four runs in the loss, despite only allowing three hits. And Miley was his normal consistently decent self as he lasted six innings and gave up just one run and picked up the win for his efforts.
You hate to position yourself on the other side of a guy as talented as Chris Sale, but fading great pitchers that are just a bit off their game at the moment, is a great way to find huge value spots. We are going to do a heat check today as we look for another underdog to back as the Tampa Bay Rays square off against the Cleveland Indians.
The Cleveland Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday in game three of a four-game series. The series is split at one game apiece after the Rays took game one, and the Indians managed a late comeback last night to tie the series up. After a red-hot start to the season, the Rays have cooled a bit recently, having gone just 5-5 in their last ten games. However, they are still ten games above .500 and are in second place in the uber-competitive AL East.
For the Indians, they are off to a much slower start than most people expected as they are just above .500 and are shockingly eight games back of the upstart Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. Cleveland had lost a season-high four straight games before they managed to pick up the win last night.
Starting for the Indians is Carlos Carrasco (4-4 4.30 ERA), and for the Rays, it is Charlie Morton (4-0 2.65 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Indians are -130 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Charlie Morton hasn’t picked up a loss in a long time. A really long time. Morton hasn’t been charged with a loss since last August, a span covering seventeen straight starts. Morton is 4-0 with an ERA of just 2.65, and really, he has pitched even better than those stats might show. He has had two rough starts, against the Red Sox and the Yankees, two of the best lineups in all of baseball.
In his other eight starts, this guy has been basically unhittable as he hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of those games. He has sixty-seven strikeouts in fifty-four, and a third innings pitched. I expect big things out of Morton today as he is facing an Indians team that is really struggling at the dish this season.
This Cleveland Indians team is loaded with good hitters. Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez, and Jason Kipnis lead an offense that should be pretty good. But they aren’t. In fact, they are dreadfully bad. The Indians are near the bottom of every offensive category right now. They are 29th in slugging percentage, 25th in runs scored and home runs, and 27th in batting average. Shockingly, this team packed full of strong bats, just can’t hit.
We have seen that already in this series where Blake Snell shut them down to the tune of one run over six and two thirds on an inning last night. We also saw that in game one where Ryan Yarbrough held them to just two runs in seven and a third. And you can easily argue that Charlie Morton is pitching better than both of those two guys right now.
Cleveland will turn to Carlos Carrasco to try and pick up the win. Carrasco got off to an awful start as through his first three starts he had an ERA north of twelve runs! He has settled down some since then, but he has allowed four runs or more in four of his ten starts this season. If he gives up more than four runs tonight, his team will have no shot to win.
I am pretty surprised to see Cleveland as favorites here. Carrasco is a great pitcher, but I feel that Morton is clearly the side to be on. And when you look at the overall strengths of these teams, the Rays just chart out as the better team. I guess the fact that Cleveland is at home is what has pushed this number towards them? But when you look at the road record for the Rays, they are 16-8. They have been significantly better on the road this year.
So, that doesn’t scare me away. And Cleveland? They are just above .500 at home, so it’s not like they are a world beater in Cleveland. So, I’ll back the hotter team, although neither team is playing all that well at the moment, and take the Tampa Bay Rays. I think Morton will mow through the Indians and give us six or seven strong innings.
Carrasco is a wild card and could end up being good as well, but the fact that I get to pick up some nice dog money on Tampa assures me that we are on the value side. Give me the Tampa Bay Rays at +120 today in game three from Cleveland!