MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Date/Time: August 3, 10:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Corey Kluber (6-11, 3.44) vs. Garrett Richards (10-8, 3.38)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Los Angeles -115
Corey Kluber has closed on the plus side of the number just once this season. Don’t be surprised if it happens again on Monday night when the Cleveland Indians open up a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Garrett Richards will take the mound for the Angels and he has to be eagerly awaiting this matchup. The Indians have scored 3.2 runs per game over their last 54 games and now Jason Kipnis is headed to the disabled list.
The Indians, a preseason World Series contender, were trading away players prior to the trade deadline. One of those players, David Murphy, was traded to the Angels. The Indians have had all sorts of offensive problems this season and they continued on Sunday against Sonny Gray. The Indians managed one run on a sac fly in the first inning and scored seven runs in the four-game series. The Angels have not had many problems scoring runs of late. They scored 132 runs in 24 games in July, but they did have an offensive outage against the Dodgers. Back in an American League park, the Angels should have some better fortune.
On the other hand, the Angels run into Corey Kluber on Monday night. If there has ever been a better example of why win-loss record is a bad way to gauge a pitcher, I’d like to see it. Kluber is 6-11 this season with a 3.44 ERA. Last season, Kluber was 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, 2.35 FIP, and a 2.57 xFIP. This season, Kluber has a 2.53 FIP and a 2.82 xFIP. His walk rate is actually better than last season, but his strikeout rate has taken a little bit of a dip. Regardless, Kluber has been worth 4.6 wins above replacement player, which ranks tied for third with Chris Sale. Only Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer have higher WARs per Fangraphs’s calculation.
What has been the problem for Kluber? Run support has been the biggest one. The Indians have scored 2.95 runs per game in support of Kluber and just 55 runs in 22 starts when he has been in the game. Another issue has been related to some bad sequencing luck. With the bases empty, batters have a .287 BABIP. With men on base, that number balloons to .366 and with runners in scoring position, it is .329. It’s hard to say whether or not Kluber is trying to be too fine to take the defense out of the equation or if it’s just one of those things prone to variance. In any event, it has been a frustrating season for Kluber and the Indians.
Garrett Richards got a late start to his 2015 season while recovering from a knee injury that he suffered last August while covering first base. Over 19 starts, Richards has not been as dominant as he was last season. Unlike Kluber, where sequencing luck has been the issue, a big drop in strikeouts and a spike in home runs have hurt Richards. Richards has struck out 6.2 percent fewer batters this season and he has allowed 11 home runs in 122.2 innings. That’s certainly not a bad ratio, but compared to last season’s five long balls allowed in 168.2 innings, it’s a noticeable difference. The outlier, however, is 2014, not this season.
Overall, Richards has a 3.38 ERA with a 3.84 FIP and a 3.97 xFIP. Surprisingly, the increase in balls in play has not led to an increase in BABIP, though the spike in home runs could explain the lack of a BABIP increase. The odd thing about Richards’s strikeout rate drop is that his swinging strike rate is nearly the exact same as last season. That would suggest some positive regression in his strikeout numbers.
MLB Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Indians can’t hit right now and everybody knows it. That’s why Kluber opened an underdog on the overnight lines and why this number may grow. Kluber should have plenty of success in a good pitching environment, so the under is certainly worth a look in this one. But, the Indians don’t face Richards much and his bowling ball sinker at 95 and good slider should be a successful arsenal against a team that simply can’t hit right now and will be without its best offensive performer to date.