The Cleveland Indians have some work to do. After losing the first two games of the series, the Indians find themselves in an 0-2 hole against the defending champion, Houston Astros. Now, the series moves back to Cleveland and the Indians are hoping for a little home field magic.
After an off day on Sunday, the series resumes when the Astros (2-0) travel to Progressive Field to take on the Indians (0-2). For the Astros, they will send out Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.74 ERA). He will be opposed by the Indians’ Mike Clevinger (13-8, 3.02 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 pm ET.
The money line for Monday’s game is set at the Houston Astros +105 and the Cleveland Indians -125. The over/under on runs scored is set at 8.5.
Astros Push To Finish The Sweep
The Houston Astros would love nothing more than to finish the sweep to give themselves more time to rest and to reset their starting rotation ahead of the ALCS. To try to do that, they will send Dallas Keuchel to the mound. The former Cy Young Award winner went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA< 1.31 WHIP and opponents hit .263 against him this season. In 204.2 innings, he had 153 strikeouts, 58 walks and allowed 18 home runs.
Keuchel was a little shaky to finish the regular season. In his last three starts, he went a combined 13 innings, allowing 9 earned runs and striking out 10. In what could be his last season in Houston, Keuchel will be looking for a strong postseason to help his free agency case.
On the offensive side, Alex Bregman has continued his hot season in the postseason. During the regular season, Bregman hit .386/.394/.532 with a .926 OPS. He had 31 home runs, 51 doubles, 103 runs batted in, 105 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. He hasn’t slowed down too much since the postseason started. In two games, he is 3 for 6 with 2 home runs, 3 runs batted in, 3 runs scored and 2 walks.
Other players hitting well through the first two games are Marwin Gonzalez (5 for 7, 2 runs batted in), Tyler White (3 for 5), Josh Reddick (3 for 6, 2 runs batted in) and George Springer (3 for 8, home run, 2 runs scored).
Indians Pushing For A Game 4
Down 2-0, the Indians just want to see a game 4 at this point. To try to get there, they will turn to righty Mike Clevinger in game 3. During the regular season, Clevinger was 13-8 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and opponents hit .223 against him. In 200 innings pitched, he had 207 strikeouts, 67 walks and allowed 21 home runs. In his last 10 starts of the regular season, he had a 1.94 ERA and 68 strikeouts in just over 60 innings. He has faced the Astros twice this season, though, and has a 6.17 ERA in those two starts.
Offensively, the Indians are hoping to find some consistency in their offense. Their leading hitter is Francisco Lindor, who is hitting .250 with a home run. No other player has more than 1 hit. In fact, in two games, they have just a combined 6 hits and only 3 runs scored. The Indians know they have to be better if they want their season to continue and will look to Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson to get them back on track.
Onto Game Four We Go
My decision comes down to the starting pitching. Clevinger has been pretty dominant this season while Keuchel has shown more signs of inconsistency, particularly at the end of the regular season. One thing to watch is the first inning. Keuchel has struggled getting through the first inning unscathed lately but if the Indians allow him to settle in, he might be able to put this series away. Still, I anticipate a better offensive output by the Indians at home in this one and I think they will be able to beat the Astros to force a game four. Take the Indians at -125 in this one.