Submitted by Jim Hurley’s Network on Monday, July 31, 2017 at 2:45 PM
POTENTIAL PLAYOFF PREVIEW AS CLEVELAND VISITS BOSTON IN AMERICAN LEAGUE SHOWDOWN
Just like the Chicago Cubs, their World Series counterpart who they've been mirroring all season, the Cleveland Indians have gotten red hot in the second half of the season. They are 9-1 their last 10 games...but haven't created much distance at the top of the AL Central because the Kansas City Royals have been just as hot.
In a three-game series beginning Monday Night, Cleveland will take on the staggering Boston Red Sox. Boston is just 2-6 its last eight games, and 5-10 over the last 15. Worse for the Sox, they found out a few days ago that starting pitcher David Price is going to miss some time with elbow issues. All that as the Yankees have heated up to surpass them in the AL East race.
Can Boston get its ship righted? Is Cleveland ready to maintain championship form over the final two months of the 2017 season. Big series with big questions to be answered. The TV Networks will be all over this one. ESPN will televise action Monday and Wednesday night. The MLB Network will show Tuesday night's encounter. Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats have to say about this potential playoff preview.
Cleveland: +101 runs, while playing 52 home games and 51 road games
Boston: +60 runs, while playing 50 home games and 56 road games
Boston has a chance to lift their run differential as their home/road split evens out. But, if they keep struggling against Cleveland, that ain't going to happen! The Indians look to be superior by quite a bit in the single best indicator stat for team quality (typically even better than won-lost record). Edge to the Indians up front.
Cleveland: 4.9 runs-per-game, .341 on-base, .441 slugging
Boston: 4.7 runs-per-game, .332 on-base, .403 slugging
Not much difference with the bats, until you get to slugging percentage. History has shown that slugging tends to matter more in "big" games because any home run represents a larger piece of the scoring puzzle in an environment that has better pitching. So, Cleveland's advantage in high-pressure meetings is probably bigger than the runs-per-game averages would suggest.
Clevinger: 3.20 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 10.0 K's per 9 innings
Fister: 7.46 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 7.5 K's per 9 innings
Fister's obviously in real trouble here. Though, he's not as bad as THOSE numbers make it look. A small sample size of just four starts in seven appearances overstates his vulnerability. That said, he's probably more like a 5.00 ERA pitcher with a 1.40 or higher WHIP, which is bad enough against a quality team like the Indians. Big edge to Clevinger, who's been a pleasant surprise for Cleveland this season.
Carrasco: 3.58 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.9 K's per 9 innings
Sale: 2.37 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 12.8 K's per 9 innings
Chris Sale is the single biggest factor keeping Boston in the pennant race. He's now a heavy favorite to win the AL Cy Young. He'd be creating Clayton Kershaw-type hype if he had received better run support. Great pitching matchup...with the Under worthy of consideration given those low ERA's, and WHIP's, and high K-Rates. Both pitchers are capable of controlling their own destiny.
Bauer: 5.25 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 9.9 K's per 9 innings
Porcello: 4.55 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 8.1 K's per 9 innings
A tricky one for handicappers. Bauer has awful raw numbers (outside of K-Rate), but appears to be pitching in some bad luck that's due to regress to toward less ugly data. Porcello had a whole season of pitching in good fortune in 2016. The laws of math are biting him this season. Definitely worth thinking about the Over here unless scoring conditions are helping the pitchers. Could be the rubber game of a competitive series. Boston just lost a rubber game at home to Kansas City on Sunday.
Not quite a full playoff preview because Corey Kluber misses the series for the Indians. But, at least a taste of what might be ahead in October if these teams can maintain their current positions in the big picture. Even with is recent slide, Boston is fairly well clear of other Wildcard contenders. Cleveland would have to really fall apart with a very talented team to miss the brackets.
JIM HURLEY will likely have at least one release in this high-profile series. Though, game-day line availability will certainly play a big role in determining that. You see...NETWORK does its best to get you the right teams at the right prices all across the Majors. That may be in a TV game, or in an off-the-radar snoozer that oddsmakers have overlooked. It's our job to find you BIG, JUICY WINNERS wherever they may be!
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