MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Indians

Date/Time: July 12, 1:10 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Sonny Gray (9-3, 2.20) vs. Corey Kluber (4-9, 3.45)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Cleveland -120

Total: 6.5

Neither the Oakland Athletics nor the Cleveland Indians will be sad to see the first half end. Expected to contend in their respective divisions, both teams are guaranteed to hit the All-Star Break with losing records after Oakland’s 5-4 win over Cleveland on Saturday night at Progressive Field. Both offenses and defenses have had their fair share of problems this season. Sonny Gray and Corey Kluber will start the first half finale on Sunday afternoon with a low total of 6.5 and the home team slightly favored with the reigning Cy Young Award winner on the mound.

The Athletics did something on Saturday that they have not been able to do very often in 2015. They won a one-run game. No team in baseball has been more unlucky in close games than the A’s. With the win, Oakland improved to just 8-22 in games decided by one run. With a +42 run differential, the A’s have a Pythagorean Win-Loss record of 50-40 on the season. Their actual win-loss record is just 40-50. The Indians, on the other hand, are one of the league’s worst offenses with runners in scoring position and win the bases loaded. As a result of that, and other statistical anomalies, the Indians are well off the pace in the AL Central and are one of baseball’s biggest disappointments so far.

A series win in Cleveland would be a huge step for the second half for the A’s. After starting the season just 14-30, Oakland is 26-20 over their last 46 games. It’s not impressive, per se, but it’s a step in the right direction to get back into contention. One of the bright spots to the first half has been Sonny Gray, who has taken the next step towards becoming an elite Major League pitcher. Gray has seen improvement in his strikeout and walk ratios, as well as his ability to avoid the barrel of the bat. Gray has one of the league’s best line drive rates against at just 14.8 percent. His sequencing has gotten better as he has matured as a pitcher and the A’s have a guy to rely on every fifth day with the ball. Despite a rather shoddy defense, Gray is 9-3 with a 2.20 ERA, a 2.67 FIP, and a 3.29 xFIP.

The happiest Indian to see the first half come to a close is Corey Kluber. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is just 4-9 on the season, despite a 3.45 ERA, a 2.41 FIP, and a 2.58 xFIP. During Kluber’s 18-9 season in 2014, he had a 2.44 ERA with a 2.35 FIP and a 2.57 xFIP. His strikeout rate is up and his walk rate is down this season. Awful sequencing and batted luck has kept him from winning games and posting a similar ERA to last season. Another contributing factor to his poor record is that the Indians have scored 34 runs while he is on the mound in his 18 starts. Kluber gets the worst run support of any pitcher in baseball and that doesn’t look like it will change against a tough competitor like Gray. The Indians have scored four runs per game in July after scoring just 3.04 runs per game in 26 June matchups.

Pick: Oakland Athletics

The Indians suffered a very difficult loss on Saturday night. Terry Francona’s bullpen mismanagement really deflated a team that had been on quite a nice run with nine wins in their previous 12 games. The quick turnaround coupled with a lack of offense will be tough for them to overcome. Not to mention, the Indians have some banged up players and some guys that are ready for a few days off.