Table of Contents
Game 1: New York Yankees (81-41) vs. Cleveland Indians (72-49)
New York Yankees: 5.7 Runs, -152 ML, Cleveland Indians: 4.8 Runs, +132 ML
We get a potential ALCS preview as the series opens up between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians Thursday. Both of these teams have had a scorching hot summer.
Since June 4th, Cleveland is 42-19 and New York is 43-20. Nearly identical records over the past two months – yet the Yankees seem to be viewed in much higher esteem at the moment. ESPN recently ran a piece detailing baseball’s Big Three (Dodgers, Astros & Yankees) minimizing the fact that teams like the Indians and Braves have been just as good as these behemoths for the better part of the season. I get it – it’s much more convoluted to write about the Big Five or the Big Three +2. In this case, I believe we can use the lay man’s eagerness toward oversimplification to our advantage in our own sports betting.
For a home team, to be justifiably a -168 favorite, we should expect either a big starting pitching advantage or a size-able difference in the teams’ overall talent. Well, I’ve already made by case that the Indians have been on the Yankees level over the past couple months, so let’s look at the pitching match up.
Differing Pitching Strategies
The Yankees start the game with 28-year-old Righty, Chad Green. Green (2-3, 4.69 ERA) mostly works as a reliever but has opened for the Yankees 11 times this season. The Yankees have posted an incredible 10-1 record with Green as an opener, but I think we can chalk most of that up to good luck and happen chance. New York’s bullpen has looked less than stellar as of late. Since the All Star break New York has dropped from 2nd in the MLB in bullpen ERA to 8th. When Zach Britton and Arlandis Chapman appear in the 8th or 9th innings,the Yankees usually fair well. But the Bombers have whole lot of work to do to get there.
Cleveland hands the ball to Adam Plutko who has been demonstrably average. Plutko (4-3, 4.68 ERA) did have one of his best outings of the year against this Yankees lineup on June 8th. In a home win, Plutko gave up just three hits and 2 runs over 6 innings.
What I like about this match-up is that Cleveland has more flexibility. The Tribe can afford to be patient, whereas the Yankees will have activity in their bullpen throughout the game, planning out each new inning. If the Indians get a lead, they know they can take Plutko out and lean on their #1 bullpen in the MLB. Conversely, the Indians can also save their bullpen to peak in latter innings if that’s what the game dictates.
I’ve favored the Yankees almost every time I wrote about them on this site, and the strategy has been working for me. On this occasion, I see too much value in going the other way. The Yankees boast a gaudy 14-2 record over their last 16 games, but the vast majority of those contests were against teams like the Orioles and Blue Jays. The Indians represent a different class of baseball team that should provide a much stiffer challenge for New York. I look at this game as more of a coin flip, and getting +132 makes it an easy decision. Take Cleveland +132 on FanDuel Sportsbook.