Weekend MLB betting preview: Phillies at Indians

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

September 20th, 2019

The Philadelphia Phillies (78-73) and Cleveland Indians (90-63) will meet at Progressive Field for a crucial three-game interleague series beginning Friday night. Here's what bettors should expect for the weekend.

Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN

TeamRun LineMoneylineTotal
Philadelphia Phillies
+1.5 (-125)
Over 9 (-110)
Cleveland Indians
-1.5 (+105)
Under 9 (-110)
Two of the most homer-prone starting pitchers in baseball, Philadelphia's Drew Smyly (4-6, 6.22 ERA) and Cleveland's Shane Bieber (14-7, 3.26 ERA), will meet in the series opener, so Over bettors are poised to cash.

Smyly is tied for eighth in most home runs allowed this season (31), with Bieber close behind (30). Smyly's lone start against the Indians this year was a disaster. He was chased in the fourth inning, after he allowed five runs on six hits (including three home runs) and two walks June 18. Outfielder Yasiel Puig is 4-for-5 all-time against the southpaw from Arkansas and has 13 hits in his last 28 at-bats overall (.464).
Bieber has struggled in his own ballpark in 2019, seeing his ERA and opponent batting average rise to 3.72 and .258, respectively. His WHIP also inflates to 1.240 from his 1.030 mark for the year. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez has been on fire for the Phillies, batting .310 over his last 15 games with four homers and 10 RBI, so look for him to make an impact in this one.

MLB free play: Over

Saturday, 7:10 p.m. ET, FS1

Cleveland starter Zach Plesac's complete-game shutout of the Angels on September 10 notwithstanding, bettors should expect the bullpens to get involved early in Saturday night's matchup.

Plesac (8-6, 3.64 ERA) had his turn in the rotation skipped for "workload management" reasons, which is why he hasn't pitched in nearly two weeks. Prior to that gem Plesac failed to reach the seventh inning in seven straight starts, with a 5.45 ERA during that span. The Tribe's relief corps has given manager Terry Francona some anxiety over the last 30 days, with a 4.37 ERA (17th).

Jason Vargas (6-8, 4.48 ERA) has left plenty to be desired since he was dealt to the Phillies, and he owns a 5.48 ERA in his first nine starts for them. His 10th-best bullpen over the last 30 days (3.88 ERA) will probably have to bail him out once again.

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

If Philadelphia's bullpen is forced to work overtime Saturday, its chances on snaring the series finale will be seriously damaged, as Vince Velasquez (7-7, 4.89 ERA) is scheduled to start against Adam Plutko (7-4, 4.34 ERA).

Velazquez sees significant inflation in his ERA (5.27), WHIP (1.507) and opponent batting average (.269) in his road efforts this season (71 2/3 innings). He's been far from sharp over his last seven starts, with a 6.60 ERA.

Plutko has strong home splits. He is 4-2, with a 4.00 ERA, .215 opponent batting average and 0.911 WHIP in eight outings. Philadelphia is 18th in runs per game on the road this season at 4.64.