The Cleveland Indians will look to secure a two-game series sweep when they face the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. As the road team, Cleveland is favored at -145 to win.
As most would have expected at the start of the season, the Marlins are the worst team in baseball right now. They are 8-20, already eight games back in the NL East, and one of only two teams yet to reach the 10-win plateau. They’ve currently lost four in a row and six of their last eight games despite splitting a two-game set in Cleveland last week.
Meanwhile, Cleveland has surprised some by not taking immediate control of the AL Central. The Tribe currently sits at 16-12 on the season, 1.5 games behind the Twins. The Indians have been able to string wins together at times, but they’ve also struggled to stop losing skids at one or two games, so consistency has been a problem.
Corey Kluber, who will start on Wednesday, has been emblematic of Cleveland’s rocky season. Over his first six starts of the season, Kluber is 2-2 with a 5.81 ERA. He’s allowed at least two runs in every start this season and has been knocked out in the 4th inning or sooner twice in his first six starts. The two-time Cy Young winner is still striking out batters at a high rate, but he’s also allowing plenty of contact.
On Wednesday, Kluber will face Miami’s contingent of young hitters for the first time. Of course, the Marlins are struggling to generate much offense this season. Outside of catcher Jorge Alfaro, none of Miami’s regulars have an OPS over .800. Even Brian Anderson, who had a breakout season last year, has struggled early in 2019. Veterans like Starlin Castro and Curtis Granderson aren’t providing much support, meaning Kluber will be facing a lineup that’s already been shut out seven times this season.
Ace in the Hole
Lefty Caleb Smith will get the start for the Marlins on Wednesday. He’s been outstanding early in the year, going 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his first five starts. Smith has been even better lately, pitching six innings and giving up one run or less in each of his last three starts, with two of those starts coming against the vaunted Philadelphia lineup. On the season, Smith has struck out 37 batters in 29 innings while posting an impressive WHIP of 0.83.
Smith will also have the luxury of facing a Cleveland team that has scored the second-fewest runs in the American League this season. The Indians are slowly starting to get it going now that Francisco Lindor is back and Jose Ramirez is starting to wake up. But the likes of Carlos Santana, Leonys Martin, and Jason Kipnis are all in the midst of serious slumps right now, and it’s hard for the Indians to win games when those guys are struggling to produce.
Against the Grain
It’s usually not a good idea to bet on the Marlins, but this game could be the exception. Smith has looked like an ace this season, and he should handle a Cleveland lineup that is inconsistent at best right now. In the end, taking the Indians isn’t worthwhile with a -145 money line, so bet on the Marlins as underdogs to win on Wednesday.