MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Date/Time: August 4, 10:05 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 4.03) vs. Matt Shoemaker (5-7, 4.24)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Cleveland -105

Total: 7.5

As an Indians fan, each time through the rotation, I find myself wondering how this team can be so bad. Then I watch them swing the bats against opposing pitchers and it’s all clear. The Indians will send Carlos Carrasco to the hill in this one, as a living, breathing example of why ERA is a terrible metric to judge a pitcher with. On the other side, Matt Shoemaker takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Indians and Angels are basically in a money line pick ‘em scenario here, which is a rather interesting line given how the two teams currently sit in the standings.

For the Indians, a complete and utter lack of offense coupled with poor roster management has put them in a position where they are not competing for a playoff spot. The offense has gone through prolonged stretches of playing awful and early-season defensive problems exacerbated by Terry Francona’s unwillingness to cut the cord with underperforming veterans have put the Indians in a hole that they cannot climb out of without a miracle. The Angels were a .500 team after 74 games and then went on a tear to win 17 out of 20 games. But, they have since bottomed out and have fallen well off the pace behind the Houston Astros.

Carlos Carrasco hasn’t had the season that he expected, but his advanced metrics are a better indicator of how well he has really pitched. Carrasco was domed by a comebacker from Melky Cabrera on April 14, shortly after the Indians lost catcher Yan Gomes to a knee injury. The tone for the season was ugly from the jump for the Indians. Carrasco struggled over his next few starts, but settled in nicely after that and nearly threw a no-hitter on July 1 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

One of the reasons I believe in sabermetrics is because of Carlos Carrasco and similar pitchers. On the season, Carrasco has a 4.03 ERA, which would suggest to traditionalists that he hasn’t pitched well. In reality, Carrasco has a 2.84 FIP and a 2.73 xFIP, which support the idea that the Indians have not played good defense behind him. His strikeout and walk numbers are even better than last season. His command has taken a bit of a nosedive, with a higher home run rate, but that appears to be an outlier more than anything else. His .324 BABIP against shows how unfair it can be as a ground ball pitcher. All in all, Carrasco has been terrific, but he just doesn’t have the traditional numbers to show for it.

Matt Shoemaker set the bar very high last season, going 16-4 over 20 starts and seven relief appearances with a 3.04 ERA, 3.26 FIP, and 3.28 xFIP. In looking at his minor league numbers, that type of performance was probably unsustainable. On the other hand, Shoemaker’s high home run rate also looks like a bit of an outlier. His 3.97 xFIP and 3.75 SIERA are better indicators of Shoemaker’s true talent. He doesn’t walk many batters and has some swing-and-miss upside in his stuff.

Last season was unrepeatable, any way you look at it, but he hasn’t been as bad this season as the traditional stats suggest. Fastball command has been the biggest difference for him this season. The minor velocity drop is due more to a full season of starts as opposed to coming out of the bullpen early last season. Shoemaker will be an important part of the Angels rotation going forward because of the injuries to CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver. This is a big start for him because this is a lineup he should be able to handle with relative ease. The Indians have scored less than 3.5 runs per game over the last two-plus months and are showing absolutely no signs of coming out of it. With Jason Kipnis now on the disabled list, things could get even worse for the Tribe’s bats.

MLB Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

As good as Carlos Carrasco and company are, you see the outcomes when the team can’t hit. The Indians have been a much better fielding team since Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela were called up, but it hasn’t helped their offensive prowess any. The Angels are struggling to hit right now as well, but they have to be the side to look at until the Indians offense proves otherwise.