Yankees vs Indians – AL Divisional Preview for October 5th
The 2017 MLB playoffs truly start on Thursday, when our first two sets of Divisional Series open up.
The Houston Astros host the Boston Red Sox in one huge game, while the New York Yankees, fresh off a big wild card win, take on the Cleveland Indians in the other.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 4, 2017
That second series is less difficult to gauge on paper, as The Tribe enter as heavy favorites to win the series and advance to the ALCS (-200 favorite at Bovada). Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19 ERA) gets the nod in game one and will go up against Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA).
From a pitching perspective, the Yanks have the slight edge here. Gray benefits from a park upgrade, while New York’s bats could get quieted in this setting. Bauer is no slouch, however, as the man known as Bauer Outage was quite strong across his first two playoff games a year ago.
Bauer was less useful in the 2016 World Series (5.40 ERA), but after a strong 2017 campaign, there is logic to suggest he’ll start out on top of his game. Will that matter in the face of a dangerous Yankees lineup that hung 8 runs on Ervin Santana and the Twins?
The Yanks offer the most betting value between Thursday’s two games. We can also look to the Red Sox (+121 at Topbet.eu), but New York offers the most upside.
Are we looking for upside when it comes to playoff baseball, though? The home team went 2-0 during the wild card round this week and both home teams in tonight’s AL series are understandably favored, both for game one and for the entire series.
While New York arguably has a slight edge in the pitching matchup tonight, there is still a lot to like about the Indians. Cleveland pieced together a nasty 22-game winning streak not too long ago and has unfinished business after blowing a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series.
It would make sense for Cleveland to start off their path back to the World Series in strong fashion and a young, inexperienced Yankees team might oblige. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez head an explosive Yankees offense, but this unit isn’t always consistent and they weren’t particularly reliable on the road this year.
New York was a pedestrian 40-41 away from Yankee Stadium in 2017, but their batting numbers make their road production look even worse. Normally packing serious power, the Yanks ranked just 16th in home runs on the road and entering a more conservative park like Progressive Field, that could be problematic for a team that often relies on the long ball.
It’s even more troubling with Bauer on the mound. The 26-year old righty was at his best at home (10-4, 3.93 ERA) this year and after a slow start to the season really tore it up over the second half of the year. Part of Bauer’s dominance ran through the Yanks, who he went 2-0 against with a sparkling 1.38 ERA across 13 innings.
Two starts don’t guarantee Bauer is flawless in this spot, but he’s owned this lineup, he’s in great form and he’s at home. It’s looking pretty difficult to go against him with much confidence.
That isn’t to say we want to go after Sonny Gray without thinking about our reasoning first. Gray has been quite the steady presence for New York ever since they acquired him via trade from the Oakland Athletics.
Gray has seen his ERA dip on the road this year, as he tends to benefit from being outside of the explosive Yankee Stadium +0.79 in ERA and 3 fewer home runs allowed. The main caveat? His offense doesn’t tend to follow suit and he struggles (3-7) to get wins.
The numbers aren’t dazzling in this specific matchup for Gray, either. He’s sported a shaky 4.86 ERA against Cleveland across 16.2 innings and has gone 1-2 through three starts. Unlike Bauer, he doesn’t have a strong hold on this matchup and may have to face the harsh reality of trying to control this game without much support from his offense.
Ultimately, the odds and logic favor the Indians. MLB experts have long been saying this is the best team in baseball and outside of possibly the Dodgers, this is our main World Series threat. Corey Kluber awaits to right the ship in game two if Bauer and/or Cleveland’s bats falter, but I doubt that happens tonight.
We can aim high with the Red Sox or Yankees straight up tonight, but the Indians are the safe play and we’re not losing much value at -141 at SportsBetting.ag. I don’t mind playing it safe and taking Cleveland straight up to get the ball rolling in this series.