The Cleveland Indians have won seven of 10 overall, with a chance to pull off a three-game sweep on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
It's vital for the hosts to halt their losing streak if they want to keep up in the competitive AL Central. Minnesota is still atop the standings, but Cleveland is just one game back, while Detroit is 2.5 out of the lead after four consecutive losses.
Continue on for abe Insights' preview of this divisional showcase, as we provide the best odds available upon publication, a breakdown of how wagers should trend around the main lines, and advanced stats to help your betting strategy, among other key information.
Date: Sunday, August 16
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Indians 58%; Tigers 43%
Spread: CLE -1.5 (+110); DET +1.5 (-124)
Moneyline: CLE -136; DET +130
This isn't likely to be a duel of pitching gems between Cleveland starter Adam Plutko and Detroit's Michael Fulmer. Both are relatively inexperienced, and neither have been particularly good of late in their pro careers.
Fulmer isn't quite as much at fault here. He had a sterling rookie campaign in 2016, but regressed and went 3-12 in 2018 before missing all of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery. He has a 6.35 ERA in 5.2 innings, while Plutko has a 4.93 ERA in 34 MLB appearances.
28.0 vs 12.2: These figures represent two different categories the Tigers and Indians respectively lead MLB in. Detroit's batters have the league's highest strikeout percentage, while Cleveland's hitters draw the highest percentage of walks.
.205 vs. .106: What the Tigers lack in plate discipline, they make up for with a top-five ranking in isolated power — nearly 100 points higher than the Indians in this area. Cleveland ranks last in all of baseball, and as a whole don't hit well at all.
5.20 vs. 3.18: Perhaps the most telling pitching statistic is Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP). The lower the total here, the better, and no one beats the Indians starters' 3.18. That other number is from Detroit's starting pitching, too — and it ranks in MLB's bottom three.
Despite being the worst hitting team in the sport this year (.196 team average), Cleveland has made a living off quality starts from its top-notch pitching staff. The trend continued on Saturday, as Shane Bieber improved to 4-0 in 2020 with seven shutout innings to drive Cleveland's 3-1 win.
This afternoon may not be an instance where the Indians' offense gets bailed out again. Fulmer has more upside and really good stuff when he's on, and he's obviously still knocking off some rust. Facing Cleveland may well expedite his return to that rookie-season form, where he had a 3.06 ERA in 159 innings of work.
The Tigers are much more of a threat to change the game with one swing of the bat. Four different hitters have four home runs apiece, trailing only JaCoby Jones by one for the team lead. Jones is batting .314 despite sporting a .216 career average, and his five dingers in 17 contests are a far higher long ball rate than the prior two years.
Given the depth in Detroit's lineup and the fact that Plutko isn't really a pitcher who strikes fear into the opposition, there's a real chance for the Tigers to snap their skid on Sunday. They need it, too, in order to bolster their hopes of qualifying among the AL's eight playoff teams.
One major caveat for Detroit's case, though: this has become a completely lopsided division rivalry of late. The Indians have won 19 in a row against the Tigers, and that type of dominance may be too much for the home team to cast aside and not think about going into this one.
The fact that sports betting isn't legal in Ohio and is legal in Michigan may cause more action on the Tigers' lines — at least in their state. However, any MLB bettors without an emotional stake in the game from any other legal market are likely to push more action toward the Indians' spread and moneyline at such reasonable odds.
That run total is higher than usual for a matchup featuring Cleveland, who is an MLB-best 16-5 at hitting the Under, per TeamRankings.com. It's tempting to presume that trend will continue, but look for the less-than-stellar pitching probables to drive the majority of bets to the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 8:15 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 16.
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