CLE(+140) -v- HOU (-160)
The American League Division Series (ALDS) are loaded with four experienced and talented teams returning to the playoffs for the second straight season. This year the match-ups are different in the division series and the defending World Series champions Houston Astros (103-59) open the playoffs at home against the Cleveland Indians (91-71).
No team has repeated as World Series champions in 20 years when the NY Yankees were the toast of the Big Apple. But the Astros are so well-rounded with a strong starting rotation, deep bullpen and sound defense. However, the Indians pitching rotation is the only one that ranks above the Astros in Fangraphs’ version of WAR.
Of the two division series of the Red Sox vs Yankees and Astros vs Indians, this one looks like pitching will prevail over hitting and have more lower scoring games. Game 1 is expected to be such with a low total of 6.5
The best-of-5 series starts Friday, Oct. 5 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The teams will try to get their rhythm and timing back following four days off, and the hitters in this series will face some strong starting pitchers.
ALDS Pitchers – Game 1 (Friday, October 5th at 2:05pm ET)
Kluber (CLE) +130 / O 6.5
Verlander (HOU) -140 / U 6.5
Full ALDS (CLE-HOU) Schedule
Game 1: Friday, Oct. 5 – Cleveland at Houston 2:05pm ET
Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 6 – Cleveland at Houston 4:37pm ET
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 8 – Houston at Cleveland TBD
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 9 – Houston at Cleveland TBD
Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 11 – Cleveland at Houston TBD
2018 ALDS Preview – Top Hitters
Astros have not hit too well most the year at home, considering its lineup. They’ll need a little more pop as the Indians do have some strong sluggers.
Michael Brantley: .309 batting average, 17 HRs
Francisco Lindor: .277 BA, 38 HR, 92 RBI, 129 runs, .519 SLG
Jose Ramirez: 272 BA, 39 HR, 106 RBI, 110 runs, 106 BB, .555 SLG, 34 stolen bases. The switch-hitting Ramirez destroyed fastballs from right-handed starters with a 1.24 OPS
Edwin Encarnacion: 32 HR, 107 RBI
Yonder Alonso: 23 HR, 83 RBI
The addition of Josh Donaldson adds more experience and pop to the Indians lineup.
The Astros have some big bats heading back to the ALDS with Alex Bregman (.286, 31 HR, 102 RBI) its leader with Jose Altuve (.315 batting average) leading the team in hitting. But short stop Carlos Carrea has hit just .180 since returning from the disabled list Aug. 10 and his back issue is still a concern.
2018 ALDS Preview – Astros, Indians Boast Strong Rotations
The Astros starters led the majors with a 3.16 ERA, and the Indians were third at 3.39, however, Cleveland faced more games against four AL Central opponents that were all-sub-.500 and three teams that were awful this season.
Justin Verlander starts Game 1 for Houston, and he went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA while leading the Majors with a 0.90 WHIP and AL-best 290 strikeouts. But Corey Kluber was top-tier again for the Indians winning 20 games with a 2.89 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. In two starts vs. the Astros, Kluber was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA. Of pitchers with at least 100 innings, Kluber, along with Carolos Carrasco, were top-10 in in highest chase rate induced. Verlander did not face the Indians this season, but Cleveland has clubbed him recently two seasons ago when he pitched for Detroit, going 2-6 with a 6.19 ERA.
Two more top-tier pitchers will start Game 2 as Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA, 276 K’s) makes his playoff debut for the Astros following a superb season. The Indians Carlos Carrasco (17-10, 3.38 ERA, 231 K’s) has been one of the AL’s top pitchers for a number of years.
More solid depth in the rotation will follow as the series shifts to Cleveland next week with Trevor Bauer (2.21 ERA, 221 K’s) and Mike Clevinger (3.02 ERA, 207 K’s) available for the Indians and Dallas Keuchel (3.74 ERA) and potentially Charlie Morton (3.13 ERA, 201 K’s) for the Astros.
Rookie right hander Shane Beiber will be the ace in the hole moving to the bullpen for the Indians and manager Terry Francona. Beiber had 118 K’s and just 23 BB in 114 innings for Cleveland.
2018 ALDS Odds & Predictions
The Astros are a -160 favorite to win the ALDS series with a take back of +140 on the Indians to advance. The Astros won more regular season games this season than last year when they won the World Series. But the road to another World Championship is tougher this season, and any underdog in this price range of this year’s American League playoffs has to be considered.
2018 ALDS Prediction – Cleveland Indians in 5 games
The ALDS series begin on Friday, October 5th during the Best Baseball Day of the Year when all four division series play strating at 2:05pm ET!