MLB Picks: Rangers at Indians Predictions and Preview
by Darin Zank - 6/2/2011
It's still probably a little early to be thinking about possible MLB playoff previews, but we get one this weekend when the Texas Rangers visit the Cleveland Indians for four games at Progressive Field starting Thursday night.
Defending American League champion Texas recently got a couple of its big bangers back, as OFs Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returned from stints on the disabled list. This undoubtedly has helped the Rangers recover from a cold spell. Texas just took two of three games from the Rays in Tampa to win its third series in a row, and has won seven of its last 10 games.
While neither Hamilton, with one HR on the season, or Cruz, who's hitting .234, have been ripping things up, their presence in the lineup is still a factor. The Rangers are 15-5 this season in the 20 games Hamilton and Cruz have both played, averaging 5.9 runs per game; without those two Texas is 15-21, averaging 3.9 RPG.
So at 30-26 the Rangers lead the AL West by a game and a half over the second-place Seattle Mariners.
Cleveland has cooled a bit after its hot start to this season, although it just took two of three games from the Blue Jays in Toronto this week. But the Tribe had lost five of its previous seven series. Still, through Wednesday's action the Indians, at 33-20, lead the AL Central by five games over the second-place Detroit Tigers. And they're two and a half games up on the New York Yankees in the fight for the best record in the American League.
The main reason for Cleveland's recent semi-slump was probably the offense, which got held to three runs or fewer nine times over a recent 12-game stretch.
On the season, though, the Indians rank second in the majors in scoring at 4.9 RPG, fifth in team on-base percentage at .332 and seventh in team slugging at .419.
Cleveland pitching, meanwhile, ranks 16th in team ERA at 3.83 and 13th in quality starts with 32.
Texas ranks eighth in scoring at 4.6 RPG, ninth in OBP at .327, third in slugging at .426, third in homers with 64 and, somewhat surprisingly, first in stolen bases with 57.
Meanwhile, Rangers pitching ranks 12th in ERA at 3.64 and sixth in quality starts with 35. But only one other team has committed more errors than Texas' 44.
Cleveland began this season getting right around 25/1 at most online sportsbooks to win the AL Central, upwards of 75/1 to win the American League and 150/1 odds to win the World Series. The Tribe was also sent off with a regular-season wins ‘over/under’ of 72. As of Thursday morning the Indians have had their odds drop to +1,500 at JustBet to win the pennant and 16/1 at Bodog to win the Series.
Dave Bush gets the start Thursday for Texas against Carlos Carrasco for Cleveland (7:05 EST). Then Alexi Ogando goes for the Rangers Friday against Justin Masterson for the Tribe (7:05 EST). Then Saturday Derek Holland hits the hill for Texas vs. Fausto Carmona for Cleveland (7:05 EST). And Sunday CJ Wilson starts for the Rangers against Mitch Talbot for the Indians (1:05 EST).
Texas is a combined 20-13 this season when Holland, Ogando and Wilson start, but 0-2 for Bush. And while the totals are a combined 15-9 when Bush, Holland and Wilson start, they're 4-6 when Ogando throws.
Cleveland is a combined 15-9 when Carrasco, Masterson and Talbot start this season, but 5-7 for Carmona. And while the ‘over/unders’ are a combined 17-8 when Carmona, Carrasco and Talbot start, they're 5-6 when Masterson throws.
This will be the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last year, on their way toward winning the American League pennant, the Rangers took four of six games from Cleveland. And all three of the games these teams played at Progressive Field last season played ‘under’ the posted totals.
Rangers vs. Indians Betting Trends
Cleveland is an AL-best 19-6 at home this season.
Texas is 11-15 on the road this season.
The ‘over/unders’ are 30-21 in Indians games this season.
The ‘over/unders’ are 29-26 in Rangers games this season.
The ‘over/unders’ are 17-8 this season in games played at Progressive Field, which are averaging 9.7 RPG, seventh-most among all ML ballparks.
MLB Picks: Rangers vs. Indians Predictions
The Rangers, with those two big boppers back, seem to be trending upwards at the moment, while the Indians, at best, are treading water. We like Cleveland Thursday night, Texas on Saturday, and consider Friday and Sunday's games as toss-ups. But in deferring to the hotter team, we'll go with the Rangers to win this series. And we like the ‘overs’ on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and the ‘under’ on Friday.
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