Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:45 PM EST.
Cleveland +167 over MINNESOTA
8:10 PM EST. In sticking with our “starters don’t factor in nearly as much anymore” approach, we turn our focus to the Indians once again, who are once again being disrespected by being offered this insane price against the Twins. Last time we checked, Cleveland had a 10-game lead over the Twins.
Minnesota is priced so high here because Jose Berrios (RHP - MIN) has been tabbed as having breakout and ace potential. Through 14 starts, the surface results have been good, but not great. What do the skills say? They say that his surface stats are actually fairly close to the underlying metrics, which are a mixed bag. His strikeout percentage has bumped up a few more ticks, though it is not supported by an increase in swinging strikes. Dude has 87 K’s in 83 innings but a 10% swing and miss rate does not support that. His fly-ball rate is down, but it's at the expense of a higher line drive rate. This should have increased his hit rate, and that it hasn't points to some good luck. Berríos' lack of improvement boils down to struggles against LHB in particular, as he's managed a listless 8% K-BB% and allowed a .961 OPS against. Lefties are not being fooled by his arsenal, as swing and miss rates on three of his four offerings have dipped. The Indians will have at least four and possibly as many as six left-handed bats in the lineup here.
Jean Carlos Mejia is learning on the go but his moment can come at any time because he has the talent to thrive. Dude was added to the Tribe’s 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft. He’s not likely to go past three or four innings but he’s already thrown 18 innings over four starts and three relief appearances so he has his feet wet. Mejia missed much of the beginning of the 2018 season with an injury but he had his breakout moment at the end of June when he tossed consecutive scoreless 7-inning outings while striking out 10 batters in each start for the Single-A Lake County Captains. Mejia finished the 2018 season with the highest swinging strike percentage of any full-season pitcher in the Indians organization and was rewarded for his efforts by being added to the Indians’ 40-man roster. He has struck out 16 batters in 18 innings with five walks issued. His 6.11 ERA is much higher that his 3.88 xERA.
Cleveland’s bullpen leads the majors in strikeouts and is third in xERA. Minnesota’s bullpen ranks anywhere between 15th and 18th depending on what value one gives to certain categories. Bullpens decide more games than starters so give Cleveland an edge there. We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention that on May 7, Byron Buxton strained his hip and vanished for 39 games. Three games after he returned—games in which he went 4-for-11 with a double and a home run—a pitch from Tyler Mahle hit the back of his left hand and broke it. It matters a lot, as Minnesota was losing with Buxton out and won all three games he played in when he returned. He missed the Twins last game and they lost again. Point is that he’s the wheel in the Twins offense and they are a much worse team when he does not play.
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Cleveland +167 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.34)