Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros Pick

by | Apr 25, 2019 | mlb

Cleveland Indians (13-10 SU, 11-12 RL) at Houston Astros (15-9 SU, 10-14 RL)
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2019
Time: 8:10 pm ET
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Listed Pitchers: Cleveland: Trevor Bauer (2-1, 2.20 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) vs. Houston: Gerrit Cole (1-3, 5.22 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)

TV: ESPN+
Moneyline: Indians +140/Mets -161
Over/Under: 7.5

The Astros got outside their division for the first time in a week and a half with Minnesota coming in, and they eventually got their bats going with 17 runs in the final two games of the series to boost their record to a healthy 15-9. Cleveland, on the other hand, didn’t find things pleasant on its homestand against the NL East. In five games with the Braves and Marlins, the Tribe went just 2-3, and their 13-10 record isn’t what anyone expected for them at this point in the season. But with two sweeps to their name and excellent starting pitching, the Indians are always dangerous. Can they bounce back, or will the Astros pick up where they left off in the ALDS?

MLB Betting Odds

The Astros started as a healthy favorite at -148, and the money line has only shifted further in Houston’s favor, as the Stros are now at -161. In large part, that’s because of how talented a club Houston is and its 8-1 home record in 2019. However, on the run line, the Astros are just 5-4 at home this year, meaning they’ve got a 1 in 3 chance of winning a one-run game.

Indians vs. Astros Set-Up

Cleveland had all winter to think about this matchup after what was supposed to be their time to make a run at the World Series ended up in ashes with a sweep at the hands of Houston. The Indians’ window is closing quickly, while the Astros are set up well for the next two or three years, so it’s likely that Cleveland will become more desperate as things get closer to the playoffs. For now, though, the Indians seem to be taking things slow, comfortable in the knowledge that the AL Central isn’t exactly filled with powerhouse teams. The Astros, on the other hand, expect a dogfight for their division, and they’re playing like it by getting off to a solid start to the season.

Thursday’s Starting Arms

These are two of the best arms in baseball, bar none. When Bauer is healthy, he’s one of the top pitchers in the American League. Problem is, he hasn’t always been healthy, which led to him coming out of the bullpen instead of starting in the ALDS last year. He finished 0-1 in that series with a blown save, and the Astros touched him for four runs in four innings of work over the three-game rout. Cole has struggled by his standards this year, but only in his most recent outing, a 9-4 loss at Texas, has he really gotten roughed up. He’s a much better pitcher than he showed in Arlington, and he’ll be looking to build on his four starts of at least six innings in this matchup.

Boxing Play: Jessie Vargas vs. Humberto Soto Pick

Thursday’s Batting Splits

If you’re looking for reasons why the Indians are struggling in the standings, look no further than their struggles at the plate. Cleveland ranks 28th in batting average to this point in the season, hitting a meager .213 at the dish. What’s kept the Indians afloat is great pitching and the fact that when the Tribe does get a runner on base, they tend not to waste the opportunity. The Indians have brought runners around to score 90 times in 23 games, a number that could be much worse given their hitting struggles. The Astros have the opposite problem. At .282 from the plate, they’re the best hitting team in baseball. But only 120 runs have scored for the Stros this year, putting them 15th in the league in that category.

The Bullpens

Give one of these teams a lead in the seventh inning, and there’s a good chance that the game is over. Houston and Cleveland are both excellent at protecting leads when they get them, with the Astros’ bullpen ranking second in ERA at 2.96 and the Indians eighth at 3.70. They’ve also given up just nine home runs each, a number only bested by San Francisco and Cincinnati. Even that statistic is skewed, because the Giants and the Reds don’t give their bullpens many opportunities to protect leads. The Astros and Indians do, and they usually cash in on those chances. Don’t expect a late comeback here.

Totals Report

  • The over is 5-1 in Bauer’s past six starts against the AL West
  • The under is 5-0 in the Indians’ past five Thursday games.
  • The over is 4-1 in the Astros’ past five home games.
  • The over is 4-1 in Cole’s past five starts against the AL Central.

Free MLB Pick

I think the Astros are the better team in this matchup, but I’m not at all excited by that high money line. The money coming in on the Astros has made it hardly worth it to bother picking them, which makes the question in this game whether to trust the Astros to cover the runline or to take a shot with the Indians on the money line. Neither seems an appealing option, as I know how good of a pitcher Cole can be and I certainly don’t want to pick against Bauer in a situation like this.

To me, this game feels like a one-run victory for the Astros, and unfortunately, that would make both bets where you can actually win decent money a loser. The safest bet on the table is the Indians +1.5, but if you want to risk it, I’d take a shot with the Tribe, as Bauer seems to be in a better place than Cole at the moment. Otherwise, I’d find another game to bet today; the moneyline on the Astros just isn’t worth the amount of skin you need in the game.

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