Lone Star Shoot-Out
The baseball menu Friday includes two struggling teams facing off in Texas as the Cleveland Indians visit Minute Maid Park to open up a weekend series with the Houston Astros.
Bovada has Cleveland listed as a slight favorite (-120), but what we will be watching will be the runs scored, which I think this game has the potential to see in bunches.
A couple of pitchers who have had a lot of trouble keeping runners off the basepaths square off, as Brett Myers (0-2, 7.36) takes the hill for Cleveland against the Astros' Lucas Harrell (0-2, 5.63). Bovada's total is sitting at 8½, and with two pitchers struggling like that, we're going to bank on at least one of them getting roughed up.
For as bad as everyone suspected Houston of being, they aren't having any trouble scoring runs. They're averaging 4.07 per game, which puts them about in the middle of the pack in the majors. You can't say the same about Cleveland's offense, having scored more runs than only two other teams in the American League (LA Angels and Tampa Bay). However, their pitching staff has been generous, also third worst in the AL with an unimpressive 4.68 ERA.
There's also one very telling stat I found on our Bovada data tool provided on our Home page about this match-up that really leads me to believe the runs will be plentiful, and that's bullpen usage as of late. You'll notice the two teams have combined for a whopping 34 innings of bullpen work in their last three game.
So, if you want to play the under here, you have to pick your poison. Either pull for two 0-2 pitchers -- neither with an ERA under 5 -- or count on one or both bullpens (which have been used extensively lately) to come in and save the day. Neither is a scenario I see as likely. You will learn from following me long enough that I'm not all all afraid to pull the trigger on the under in handicapping (a bet many casual bettors find unpopular). But I completely think 8½ for these two is low-hanging fruit ripe for the pickking. I'm counting on things being busy around home plate in Houston tonight.
My Pick: Cleveland at Houston OVER 8½ runs
Result ... Houston 3 Cleveland 2 run total = 5 UNDER covers