Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians Picks
Chicago Cubs (10-3) at Cleveland Indians (10-7)
When: 7:10 p.m., Tuesday, August 11
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland
Moneyline: CHC +125/CLE -145 (MyBookie - Deposit $100 and get $100 FREE!)
Runline: Cubs +1.5/Indians -1.5
Starting Pitchers: Jon Lester (1-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.55 WHIP) vs. Adam Plutko (1-0, 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP)
Expect this line to have moved by the time you read this piece. These lines were set in anticipation of Cleveland sending Mike Clevinger to the mound, but Clevinger was scratched late Monday night because he violated team protocol by going out in Chicago during the Indians’ series with the White Sox, resulting in the team forcing him into quarantine. To their credit, the Indians are taking no chances with the coronavirus, but it has slightly damaged their chances of winning in the short term.
The damage is only slight, though, because Adam Plutko is no slouch on the mound. What makes Cleveland so dangerous is that despite a tire-fire offense, the Indians excel at run prevention and have received outstanding pitching throughout their rotation. Plutko has been effective as both a starter and a reliever and hasn’t allowed an opponent to manufacture a run against him in seven innings pitched this season. The only runs the left-hander has conceded came via a pair of solo home runs against the White Sox. The Cubs hit about as well as the White Sox do, so if Plutko can keep the ball in the park, the Indians might not even miss Clevinger in this start.
Return to the Field
While the Indians’ pitchers were getting themselves in trouble with possible exposure to the virus, the Cubs were sitting at home because of another team’s inability to stay inside of its bubble. Unlike the Indians, though, the Cardinals didn’t take the proper precautions and allowed the virus to spread through the entire team, leaving the Cubs as this weekend’s victim of St. Louis’ carelessness. Thanks to the Cardinals’ problems, the Cubs haven’t played since Aug. 6 at Kansas City, where they saw a six-game winning streak come to an end.
This begs the question: how will the Cubs respond? When teams have been forced to the sidelines because of COVID, it’s been a mixed bag as to how they’ve done on their return. The Marlins, for example, were excellent in their return, but they also played the Orioles, who aren’t a great team and were also coming off a COVID suspension. The Phillies struggled coming off the virus, but they also immediately had to face the Yankees, who look every bit like a World Series champion.
With Jon Lester on the mound, there’s reason to believe in the Cubs putting together a fine performance, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how well Chicago returns to the diamond.
The Boss is Back
Cleveland might be down two pitchers, but the Indians will once again have Terry Francona in the dugout for this series, as Francona returns after missing eight games for a health issue unrelated to COVID. The biggest problem for Francona to fix is his offense, which has looked disastrous through the opening parts of the season.
Truth be told, disaster is being kind to this offense. Cleveland has been truly putrid at the plate this season, hitting an anemic .196 as a team to rank dead last in the majors. The only reason that Cleveland hasn’t been worse is that the Indians are the most patient team in baseball, working out 76 walks this season. This is how ridiculous things have been for the Indians this year. In a game against the Reds, Cleveland managed to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the seventh inning by getting two runs without ever having the ball touch the outfield grass for a hit. During that stretch, the Indians had one man reach on an error, worked out three walks, and notched an infield single. Somehow, Cleveland won the game anyway. That’s the makings of a classic “Under” play, and indeed the Indians have hit the under 14 times in 17 games.
- The Cubs have won six of their past seven.
- The Cubs have won 16 of their past 21 series openers.
- The Indians are 10-2 in their past 12 against the NL Central.
- The Indians have won four straight following an off day.
- The over is 8-1 in the Cubs’ past nine road games.
- The under is 13-3 in the Cubs’ past 16 games after an off day.
- The under is 5-0 in the Indians’ past five series openers.
- The Cubs have won four of their past five in Cleveland.
With temperatures at 82 degrees and the derecho now having blown past Ohio, this should be a great night for baseball on Lake Erie.
The Indians just are not hitting right now, and I’m worried about what the actions of their starting pitchers will do to the club’s chemistry. Cleveland needs its pitchers to carry the load, and this isn’t really an optimal time to have to change pitchers against a rested Cubs team that’s been playing very well.
Chicago’s pitching has done the job this season, and the Indians’ offense is a mess right now. I cannot see Cleveland turning things around against Lester, even with Francona back in the dugout. I like the Cubs, and I wouldn’t wait to grab them, as I think that line is going to move toward the North Siders. For the total, I have to bank on the under. Bet your MLB picks free today by taking advantage of the best small bonus on the web where you deposit only $25 and you’ll get an extra $50 added! A 200% bonus! Find this great offer at the web’s oldest bookmaker: Intertops! (Must use bonus code ROOKIE200)