The Chicago White Sox have to be loving what they are seeing in Cleveland this week. The Indians lost a doubleheader to the Tigers on Wednesday and have lost the first two games of the series to the Houston Astros on Thursday and Friday. The Tribe are big underdogs again on Saturday as first place and playoff hopes simultaneously slip away.
Houston just keeps rolling on, scoring a bunch of runs on a daily basis with a lineup that nobody seems to be able to stop. The Indians will send Eli Morgan out there on July 3 to try and slow down the Astros and Cleveland hopes that the bats will wake up against Jake Odorizzi in one of just a small handful of evening first pitches on Saturday.
Houston is in the -165 range at BetOnline Sportsbook with a total of 9.5 for this one.
The Astros are just on another level right now. After another run line win on Friday, Houston sits at 50-33 with the second-best record in the American League. The Stros actually lost four in a row before taking on the Indians, including a series sweep at the hands of the Orioles in games at Minute Maid Park where Houston was a big favorite in all three. Baseball can sometimes be weird like that.
This is an Astros team that actually started the season 6-10 over the first 16 games and that was even with a big four-game sweep of Oakland to start the year. Overall, Houston is far and away the best offensive team in baseball. No team strikes out less than the Astros and they’ve used that barrage of balls in play to really punish opposing pitchers. In fact, the Astros have won 21 games by 5+ runs this season already.
Houston’s .345 wOBA is eight points better than any other team in the league and the 123 wRC+ that the Astros have posted is easily tops in MLB this season. It is a relentless offensive approach with contributions from everybody in the lineup.
If the Astros fixed the bullpen woes, there would be no question about the World Series favorite, let alone the favorite in the AL. Houston’s bullpen ranks in the bottom third of the league in FIP and has had some very large blow-ups. However, the team’s ERA is down into the 4.20s and things may be stabilizing a bit as the Trade Deadline nears.
Jake Odorizzi gets the start today with a 4.08 ERA and a 3.70 FIP. The basic numbers don’t really tell the whole story because Odorizzi was hurt in April and pitched poorly as a result. Since coming off of the IL on May29, Odorizzi has a 2.30 ERA with a 2.90 FIP in his last five starts and one relief appearance. He has not allowed a run in his last 14 innings.
Eli Morgan has allowed a lot of runs, so the Indians are up against it yet again on Saturday. Morgan heads into this start with a 9.37 ERA and a 6.16 FIP in his four MLB starts. For those counting at home, that would be 17 runs in 16.1 innings of work. Morgan has picked it up in the strikeout department, but the Astros don’t really strike out much, so we’ll see how much that actually benefits him here.
Morgan has already allowed six homers in his MLB career. It looks to be a rather seasonable day in Cleveland on Saturday, but we have seen the park play a bit smaller now that the weather has warmed up. It seems to be a recipe for disaster for the Indians, who are still missing Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale with injuries. Plesac made a rehab start for Double-A Akron within the last couple of days, but there are still no timetables for Bieber or Civale.
The Cleveland offense has been a bit better recently, but a lot of that had to do with facing bad pitching. The Indians played teams like the Orioles, Mariners, Cardinals, Tigers, and even repeated games against some of those squads over the last month or so worth of games. Facing a much better Houston team, the difference has been quite clear.
The Indians rank 24th in wOBA this season and have an on-base percentage below .300. The sole reason this team has even been in the hunt has been the pitching staff and, more specifically, the bullpen. It’s hard to get the bullpen to be at max capacity without a lead and the Indians don’t appear to be capable of many of those against good teams.
Astros vs. Indians Free Pick
The Astros have been lined in this range in each of the first two games of the series and have covered the run line in both of them. Why should we expect anything different here? The offense has yet another favorable matchup and the Indians offense draws Odorizzi, who doesn’t have as much upside as Framber Valdez or Lance McCullers, but is still pitching well.
Pick: Houston Astros Run Line