Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST.
CLEVELAND -1½ +175 over St. Louis
1:10 PM EST. Cleveland's new name may have triggered some, but in a month or two, will anyone really be longing for Chief Wahoo? Those that cite history and cancel culture as reasons to not change the Baseball Team's current moniker show their ignorance. Firstly, with regards to the history of baseball in Cleveland, this franchise has won exactly two World Series since they started handing out that hardware in 1903. As the saying goes, “a rose by another name would smell as sweet.” Well, a baseball team by any other name is still a baseball team. As for the current moniker and its offensive origins, let us not forget that one of the reasons that Native Americans and First Nations people in Canada are called "Indians" is that Christopher Columbus didn't know where the hell he was or who he was meeting when he landed. The term "Indian" is not a romanticisation of the past or the latest victim of "cancel culture." It's a word that was derived from ignorance (at best) and is not based in any sort of reality. Dude wasn't close to the Indies as he thought, yet here we are.
As for the Baseball Team, it had some great names prior to settling on “Indians” 1915. The "Naps," for Napoleon Lajoie, who played, managed or did both in Cleveland from 1902 to 1914 was a fine tribute. "Lake Shores," “Bronchos” "Bluebirds," and even the "Molly McGuires" were serviceable too. Those moaning on about history can take those multiple rebrandings, stick them in their peace pipes and smoke ‘em till they can’t smoke no more. For years, supporters of the name "Indians" would point to the fact that the team was finally named after Louis Sockalexis, arguably the first Native American star to play in the majors. However, if the team hadn’t been looking to profit off of cultural caricatures, wouldn't a name like "Socks," "Louis," or even "Deerfoot," as Sockalexis was known as the "Deerfoot of the Diamond” be more fitting of a tribute? Instead, they settled on "Indians" and Chief Wahoo. You tell us who's being honored there. To support that point further, the most recent rebranding made little mention of Sockalexis and did not incorporate him in any way. If history were the victim here, surely a more proper tribute could have been in the cards, rather than the generic name that was chosen.
As for the soon to be Guardians, we've certainly been critical of them this season, but with Zach Plesac (RHP - CLE) on the mound, we see some potential. Plesac had some preseason hype, but injuries and some tough luck have left him without a decision in his last three starts. Despite the lack of wins, Plesac has an elite groundball rate (51.5%) and a swing and miss rate that is in line with the league average (11.8%), which is a number we can work with. He and the Baseball Team appear to be solid buy low candidates, especially considering the pitcher they will face today is trading at a season high.
On the surface, we can see the appeal of Kwang-Hyun Kim (LHP - STL) this afternoon. Dude has been on a roll as of late, as he's given up just two runs in his last four starts, with both of those coming against the Cubs last time out. That means Kim pitched three straight shutouts prior. Numbers like that will get you noticed in this market. However, we're willing to make the case that his recent run of success is not the norm. Kim's xERA is 4.50, which is almost two full runs higher than his surface number (2.88), while his swinging strike rate is a puny 9.4%. His groundball rate is worth mentioning because it's the only thing that is keeping him out of trouble, but it's just one piece of the pie and is not enough to suggest Kim is nearly as good as he's been of late. To recap, after 12 years in the KBO, Kim arrived with a hyped slider, but it has garnered just a 11% swing and miss rate. Low velocity, subpar swing & miss rate and K% across all offerings put a firm cap on his upside. Expect a hard slump toward xERA the rest of the way. Now add in some recency bias combined with the Cardinals winning the opener last night and it presents this outstanding sell opportunity on Kim and the Redbirds.
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CLEVELAND -1½ +175 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.50)