Stuckey: The Major Pitching Edge to Know Before Betting Indians-Yankees on Sunday

Stuckey: The Major Pitching Edge to Know Before Betting Indians-Yankees on Sunday article feature image
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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mike Clevinger.

Betting Odds: Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees

Mike Clevinger (7-2 3.34 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (5-6, 4.78 ERA)

  • Indians odds: -124
  • Yankees odds: +115
  • Over/Under: 10
  • First pitch: 1:05 p.m. ET 

The Indians’ extended New York trip will continue today as they finish up a series with the Yankees, who have run away and hid atop the American League East.

The Tribe are looking to split the four-game set with New York in a matchup of two of the hottest teams in baseball. After losing the first game in blowout fashion, the Yanks answered with two straight wins — each by one run.

Let’s take a closer look at which side I bet (and why) this afternoon in the Bronx.

I like the Tribe here for a few reasons.

Cleveland will turn to starter Mike Clevinger, who’s been outstanding on the hill since July 1. In fact, the right-hander has a perfect 6-0 record with a 2.39 ERA over that span of eight starts.

While he only lasted 4.2 innings in his previous outing against Boston, I expect Clevinger to bounce back. The Yankees’ offense has been rolling of late, but it’s benefited from a ton of good fortune with two outs and with runners in scoring position. They have a number of high regression candidates in their lineup, which is simply over-performing as they deal with a plethora of injuries.

In contrast, Yankees starter CC Sabathia really struggled in July, going 0-2 with a 7.17 ERA in four starts. Today will mark his first start in August as he’s coming off a stint on the IL.

After recently adding right-handed power bats Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes, Cleveland has the lineup that can really trouble the veteran Sabathia. Just like we saw on Saturday against left-hander James Paxton, expect manager Terry Francona to roll with eight right-handed bats once again today.

And even if CC is effective in his first start back, I still don’t expect him to go that deep. The 39-year-old isn’t known for his distance anymore, averaging a tad more than five innings per start this year.

Normally, that wouldn’t be a huge problem with the Yankees’ elite bullpen. However, that pen will likely be shorthanded today.

Bullpen Barometer

With Dellin Betances still injured, the top-four Yankee relievers are Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and closer Aroldis Chapman. All four pitched in yesterday’s win, improving New York’s record to a silly 22-0 when they do.

However, they won’t have a chance to improve that record to 23-0 on Sunday due to recent workload. Chapman certainly won’t be available after pitching in back-to-back games. The Cuban hasn’t pitched in three straight days all season. And I doubt that changes today, especially after going five of the past seven days.

Britton also pitched in each of the past two games and three of the past four days. And like Chapman, the ex-Oriole hasn’t pitched in back-to-back-to-back games this year. And there’s really no reason for manager Aaron Judge to push any of his top relievers with a 10.5 game lead in the division.

Oh, and guess what? Tommy Kahnle also came on in relief on Friday and Saturday — and also hasn’t pitched on three straight days all season. Ottavino should be available, but this normally dominant pen should be severely shorthanded. And that’s a major concern with CC getting the start.

Bet to Watch: Indians -124

Bottom line, Clevinger is the superior starter and better bet to go deeper into the game. And the Indians, who actually have the best bullpen ERA in all of baseball, are in better shape overall in regards to reliever availability. After a blowout win and two losses, all of their best pen arms will be ready to go once Clevinger exits.