The Cleveland Indians will host the New York Yankees on Thursday in the first of a four game series.
Both teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended right now, both are coming off huge wins Wednesday, and both have their aces on the mound. Needless to say, it is going to be quite a game when the New York Yankees (60-31) travel to Progressive Field to take on the Cleveland Indians (50-41). The Yankees are coming off of a 9-0 shutout of the Baltimore Orioles, a team they have surprisingly had some trouble with and the Indians are coming off of a 19-4 drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds. Even more impressive about the matchup is the pitching. The Yankees will be sending ace Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA) to the mound to face off against perennial AL CY Young candidate Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.49 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
The moneyline for Wednesday’s game is set at the New York Yankees -107 andthe Cleveland Indians -103. The over/under on runs scored is set at 7.
At 7-4, the Yankees have had a pretty good start to the month of July, but they still find themselves 3.5 games behind the division leading Boston Red Sox. To try to get this last series before the break started off right, Luis Severino will be taking the mound. On the season, Severino is 14-2 with a 2.12 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and opponents are only hitting .198 against him. In 123.1 innings, he has 143 strikeouts versus only 31 walks. On the season, the Yankees have won 17 of 19 games that Severino has started, and the only two that they lost, they scored a combined 3 runs. Needless to say, you have to like their chances anytime he toes the rubber.
Offensively, some of the Yankees bats have really heated up in the last 30 days. In that time, Giancarlo Stanton is hitting .348/.406/.591 with a .998 OPS. He has 7 home runs and 20 runs batted in over that span. During the same time, Aaron Judge is hitting .306/.411/.546 with a .957 OPS, 7 home runs and 15 runs batted in. Aaron Hicks has also gotten in the mix over the last 30 days as he has 10 home runs and 16 runs batted in over that time. In Wednesday’s win, the Bronx Bombers got 3 home runs, including a grand slam by first baseman Greg Bird.
At 8.5 games up, the Indians are feeling pretty comfortable in the AL Central. Despite their lead, they know that a four game series against a possible postseason opponent can change things in a hurry. With that in mind, they will be looking to ace Corey Kluber to get them off on the right foot Thursday night. On the season, Kluber is 12-4 with a 2.49 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and opponents are hitting .207 against him. In 126.1 innings, he has struck out 123 batters and has walked only 15. One thing that has gotten him thus far, which is bad news facing a powerful Yankees lineup, is the long ball. On the season he has given up 17 home runs. In his last start, Kluber took a no decision in a 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s. Despite the loss, he went 7 innings of scoreless ball, striking out 3.
To say that the Indians bats broke out on Wednesday would be an understatement. They scored 19 runs against the Reds, including 4 home runs (2 by Jose Ramirez, 1 by Francisco Lindor and 1 by Jason Kipnis). Speaking of Ramirez and Lindor, they have been sizzling this season. Ramirez is hitting .293/.392/.609 with a 1.001 OPS. He has 27 home runs, 65 runs batted in, 19 stolen bases and has scored 63 runs. Not to be outdone, Lindor has hit .295/.370/.571 with a .941 OPS. He has 25 home runs, 62 runs batted in, 12 stolen bases and 82 runs scored. Together they form a potent lineup.
Let’s be honest, this game is a coin flip that could go either way. The moneyline indicates as much. Thus, I have to go to past performances. While success is rather limited against Kluber, the Indians have had some against Severino. Jose Ramirez is batting .300 with 2 home runs. Francisco Lindor is hitting .273 with one homer and Michael Brantley is hitting .250 with a long ball. While that may not be huge results, there is less on the Yankees side. I am picking the Indians on their home field in this one, take them at -103.