Tuesday MLB Odds & Picks for Cubs vs. Indians: Bet Cleveland to Win as Heavy Favorite (May 11)
Harrison Barden/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Bieber.
- The Chicago Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians in interleague play on Tuesday night.
- Both teams have different strengths, and the Tribe appears to have a clear pitching advantage tonight.
- Kevin Davis explains why that will be the difference in his full betting breakdown below.
Cubs vs. Indians Odds
|7 (+100 / -121)
|6:10 p.m. ET
The Indians host the Cubs in an interleague matchup Tuesday night. Despite playing in different leagues, both teams have much in common.
Over their last 10 games, the Cubs and Indians are both 7-3. As a result, Chicago is only 3.5 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central. Similarly, Cleveland is one game behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central.
Each team has a different strength.
The Indians have a decent lineup but several solid starting pitchers. The Cubs have a strong lineup but several unreliable starting pitchers. On Tuesday, these differences will be very evident as 2020 AL Cy Young Award Winner Shane Bieber is pitching for the Tribe while rookie starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay counters for the Cubbies.
The Indians predictably are -160 favorites with Bieber on the mound. The question is, as heavy favorites, is it worth it to be a Cleveland Belieber on Tuesday night?
The median MLB team is averaging 4.32 runs per game this season, while the Cubs' lineup averages 4.62.
If Chicago is going to beat Bieber and the Indians, it will be because of their lineup. One reason why the Cubs are 6-2 in May is that their lineup has a wRC+ of 101 for the month. On a typical night this month, the Cubs create 1% more runs per game than the average MLB lineup.
Unlike their National League matchups, Tuesday’s game is played at an American League stadium, meaning Chicago will fill its lineup with a designated hitter. With a DH, the Cubs would score 6% more runs than the typical MLB lineup, according to my model. The question for Tuesday night is whether or not a DH will be enough for Chicago to overcome Shane Bieber and the Indians.
In addition to the Cubs' lineup, another factor that makes them competitive on Tuesday is Alzolay on the mound. Going into the season, Alzolay was projected to have an ERA close to five. Surprisingly, he has a 4.50 ERA and a 3.40 xFIP. The question with Alzolay is whether or not he can continue pitching this well.
The biggest factor for both teams is Bieber.
Last season, Bieber posted an 8-1 record with a 1.63 ERA and a 2.04 xFIP. Bieber seems to have regressed this season as he has a 2.98 ERA, but he also has a 2.39 xFIP, which is barely higher than last year’s xFIP. Most impressively, Bieber is a high-strikeout pitcher, as he has averaged more than 14 strikeouts per nine innings over the last two seasons.
Additionally, the Indians make sure to get as many innings as possible out of Bieber. He's averaging almost seven innings per start. Last season, Bieber averaged more than 6 1/3 innings per start. Even if Bieber pitches for fewer innings than usual, Cleveland will be well served by its bullpen, which owns a 3.72 xFIP, the seventh-lowest in the league.
While Cleveland is well-suited with its pitching, particularly on Tuesday night, its lineup is relatively average.
The Indians average 4.25 runs per game, which is around the league average of 4.38. While the Indians' lineup is not a particular strength, they do have a few hitters who are dangerous.
José Ramírez, the Cleveland third baseman, may have a .259 batting average, but he has nine home runs, and a wRC+ of 143. Additionally, DH Franmil Reyes is another dangerous player in the Tribe’s lineup who has mashed eight homers.
In a lopsided matchup, I usually bet on the underdog. However, for Tuesday’s game, I like the Indians as heavy favorites based on the pitching matchup.
If Bieber played for the Yankees or Dodgers, his team would be at least a -225 favorite when he pitches. Even though the Cubs are a strong team, they are in a bad spot on Tuesday.
My model likes Cleveland, and I would bet it up to -175.
Pick: Indians ML -160 (Play to -175).