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Mike Clevinger has been a revelation for the Indians since the start of 2017. Can he keep the Yankees in check on Saturday?
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB picks column for Saturday, July 14th. Friday’s pick was a winner, and it went pretty much how we thought it would - in the battle of rookie starting pitchers, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber performed better the Yankees’ Domingo German in a 6-5 Indians win. The victory pushes us to 5-2 over the last week and 68-49 overall.
We’re sticking with the series in Cleveland for Saturday’s pick. Despite yesterday’s win, the Indians are still being undervalued by the oddsmakers - don’t forget that they were the best team in baseball in 2017, as we covered in our preseason preview. Let’s take a look at Saturday’s starting pitchers, where the Tribe have the advantage once again.
New York Yankees (Sabathia) at Cleveland Indians (Clevinger)
Mike Clevinger came out of relative obscurity to provide solid production for the Indians in 2017 (3.11 ERA over 121.2 innings), and while his ERA is slightly higher in 2018, he’s already nearly reached his 2017 workload in what should be a much more productive season. The key difference this year for Clevinger has been his walk rate - he was playing with fire last year (4.44 BB/9), but has been about league-average in that category this season (3.03 BB/9).
Clevinger has been exceptional at avoiding the home run so far this season - he’s 5th amongst qualified starters in HR/9. While he figures to start giving up a few more dingers on average, homer prevention should remain a strength for Clevinger moving forward, and it could not be more important today - the Yankees have hit 27 more home runs than any other team in baseball. Clevinger should be up for the task of keeping the ball in the park on Saturday, and he’s certainly a better bet than the pitcher opposing him, the aging C.C. Sabathia.
We picked against the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia a couple weeks ago, and he promptly turned in a “masterful” performance against the Red Sox. We aren’t going to be deterred by one odd outcome though - Sabathia should not be able to maintain his current pace (3.34 ERA in 2018) for much longer. His peripheral stats tell a much bleaker story than his ERA - his 4.45 FIP is much more in line with the type of pitcher Sabathia is now at 37 years of age. His strikeout rate is the lowest it’s ever been and he’s inducing the least amount of ground balls than he has in nearly a decade.
We covered the offensive matchup yesterday - while the Yankees do have the best offense in baseball, the Tribe are not far behind. We touted the duo of Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor as being more productive than the much-publicized Yankee sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, and they delivered for us - they got on base a combined six times to the Yankees’ duo’s one time. With the weaker starting pitcher opposing them, we’ll bank on Ramirez and Lindor being the better combo on Saturday as well.
While the odds aren’t quite as favorable on Saturday -- we’re still amazed that Cleveland was an underdog on Friday -- the line is still far from accurate. Despite C.C. Sabathia’s past dominance, the Indians will be sending the far better pitcher to the mound on Saturday in Clevinger. With that in mind, we’re happy to take the Tribe at nearly even odds; -107 at BetOnline looks like a great price to us.
Enjoy your weekend LazyBets readers, and good luck to you and your wagers. That’ll do it for today’s MLB picks, and as always, let’s get a win!
Bet the Indians -107
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