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The Indians offense has been a top-five unit this year, led by Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column for Monday, July 30th. Sunday’s pick went off without a hitch, as we handily beat the closing line (we got Boston at -145 at BetOnline on Saturday night; it closed at -159) and the Red Sox cruised to a 3-0 victory. Picks like those are what we aim for, and it's what has gotten us to 20 games over .500 for the year (72-52 overall).
We’re taking aim at the Twins again on Monday, as they’ll send veteran righty Ervin Santana to the mound against the NL Central leading Indians. We love the lines being offered on this one at our favorite sportsbooks - we think they’re dramatically underrating the chances that Cleveland takes home the win. Let’s get into it.
Cleveland Indians (Bieber) at Minnesota Twins (Santana)
Veteran right-hander Ervin Santana will make his second start of the season on Monday after finally recovering from finger surgery in February. We’re glad he’s back, because his performance since joining the Twins has made him one of the most overrated pitchers in baseball, and a prime target to bet against.
The 35-year old righty has an impressive 3.49 ERA over 81 starts with Minnesota, but his peripheral stats have not been encouraging for his performance going forward. He’s never been a high strikeout pitcher, and his projected rest-of-season K rate of 6.89 per nine is dangerously low. He’s been able to avoid trouble of late thanks to his fortune with runners on base - in 2017 his LOB% was a full 10% higher than what it’s projected to be this year.
All of the warning signs are there for the aging Santana - he figures to be extremely hittable for the remainder of this season, even if he’s fully recovered from injury. His ERA after one start is 5.40, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him end the season with a similar mark.
Speaking of extremely hittable, Indians rookie Shane Bieber took his worst beating of the year in his last start, giving up 7 earned runs in only 1.2 innings pitched against the Pirates on Tuesday. However, we’re not going to let one bad start sway our opinion on the kid - especially since we’re 3-0 when betting on Cleveland in Bieber’s starts so far.
Bieber’s 2018 ERA was inflated to 4.80 by that start, but his ability to prevent walks has kept his FIP at a tidy 3.61, and it’s the main reason we believe he should have success for the remainder of the year. While he doesn’t have the experience of Santana, he’s the far better pitcher at the present moment - he figures to strike out more batters, walk far fewer, and allow fewer home runs.
We talked about how mediocre the Twins offense was yesterday - Bieber shouldn’t have much trouble working his way through this order, as it’s devoid of top-flight talent. The Indians haven’t been quite as explosive as the Red Sox offensively, but it’s close - they rank 4th in baseball in wRC+. Like the Sox, they also have an elite duo of sluggers - Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor - surrounded by above-average support in Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso.
With such an obvious offensive mismatch, the moneyline being offered in Monday’s game only makes sense if you think that Santana is as good or better than Bieber. We don’t, and we don’t think it’s particularly close. That’s why we love the -131 line being offered at BetOnline; we see the powerful Cleveland offense pouncing all over Ervin Santana in this one.
That’ll do it for Monday’s MLB pick. If you’re looking for a new place to bet, be sure to check out our Approved Sportsbook list and be sure to grab one of the many juicy sign-up bonuses being offered.
Good luck to all of you LazyBets readers out there. Let's start the week off with a win.
Bet the Indians -131
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