The Cleveland Indians were favorites to win it all heading into the postseason and were a shoo-in to defeat the New York Yankees heading into the American League Division Series. However, the Indians find themselves heading back to Cleveland for a series-deciding game five. In this series, two games were decided by one run (the Indians winning game two 9-8 and the Yankees winning game three 1-0) while the other two games were each decided by four runs (the Indians winning game one 4-0 and the Yankees winning game four 7-3). The Indians had a spectacular regular season and will lay it all on the line with a chance to advance to the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros.
Date – Wednesday October 11th, 2017
Time – 8:08 PM EST
Line – CLE -175
Why The Yankees Might Win
The Yankees weren’t even expected to make the postseason heading into this season and they’ve seemingly been exceeding expectations all year long. After blowing an 8-3 lead and losing in the 13th inning to fall behind in the series 2-0, everyone assumed that this series would be wrapped up sooner rather than later. However, the Yankees have stormed back in games three and four, and are now in prime position to slay Goliath. In this decisive game five, the Yankees will roll with veteran CC Sabathia, who is an astounding 14-5 on the season with a 3.69 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 0.42:1 BB:K ratio, and 1.28 HR/9 rate. Opponents have slashed .246/.312/.403 against Sabathia on the season. In Sabathia’s game two start against the Indians, Sabathia pitched 5.1 innings while allowing three hits, four runs (two earned), three walks, and five strikeouts – not bad, but might not be enough to secure a victory. Simply put, Sabathia is up against Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber and will need to dial back the clock to his prime in order for the Yankees to have a chance. However, with the Yankees’ big bats, an offensive explosion can happen at any time. If Sabathia limits the Indians, the offense puts on a show, and the deadly bullpen comes in during the latter stages of the game, the Yankees will be looking at a massive upset and advance to the ALCS.
Why The Indians Might Win
You could easily make the argument that the Indians should have swept this series. The Indians have been the much better team all season long but now find themselves having to play one game with their season on the line. However, the Indians couldn’t have hoped for a better starter for this game – ace Corey Kluber. On the year, Kluber is 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 0.87 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 0.14 BB:K ratio, and 0.93 HR/9 rate – unworldly numbers. Additionally, opponents have only managed to slash .193/.235/.321 on the season against Kluber. In two regular season starts against the Yankees, Kluber is 2-0 in 17.0 IP while allowing six hits, three earned runs, two home runs, two walks, and 18 strikeouts. However, in Kluber’s game two start, he was rocked for seven hits, six earned runs, two home runs, one walk, and four strikeouts while lasting only 2.1 innings. He was bailed out with the Indians producing a miraculous come-from-behind victory but Kluber knows he’ll need to be much better if the Indians wish to advance to the ALCS. It’d be hard betting against Kluber and the Indians, knowing what happened last year in game seven of the World Series. This team doesn’t have too many flaws and if everyone plays up to par, the Indians should finish off this series and advance.
Here are Sabathia and Kluber’s head-to-head matchup splits against their opposing team’s hitters.
CC Sabathia vs. Indians
- Edwin Encarnacion .273/.333/.345 with 0 HR, 4 BB, and 11 K in 55 AB
- Austin Jackson .306/.390/.528 with 1 HR, 5 BB, and 15 K in 36 AB
- Carlos Santana .524/.583/.714 with 1 HR, 3 BB, and 1 K in 21 AB
- Jay Bruce .133/.235/.133 with 0 HR, 0 BB, and 5 K in 15 AB
- Jason Kipnis .214/.313/.429 with 1 HR, 2 BB, and 5 K in 14 AB
- Michael Brantley .067/.067/.067 with 0 HR, 0 BB, and 7 K in 15 AB
- Francisco Lindor .455/.538/.545 with 0 HR, 2 BB, and 0 K in 11 AB
- Jose Ramirez .400/.455/.400 with 1 HR, 1 BB, and 4 K in 10 AB
- Yan Gomes .111/.200/.444 with 1 HR, 1 BB, and 4 K in 9 AB
Sabathia has compiled decent sample sizes for the majority of the Indians’ hitters, with mixed results.
Corey Kluber vs. Yankees
- Todd Frazier .148/.207/.148 with 0 HR, 2 BB, and 10 K in 27 AB
- Aaron Hicks .160/.250/.320 with 1 HR, 3 BB, and 9 K in 25 AB
- Brett Gardner .190/.227/.333 with 1 HR, 1 BB, and 6 K in 21 AB
- Jacoby Ellsbury .250/.286/.350 with 0 HR, 1 BB, and 3 K in 20 AB
- Didi Gregorius .133/.133/.200 with 0 HR, 0 BB, and 3 K in 15 AB
- Chase Headley .071/.133/.286 with 1 HR, 1 BB, and 4 K in 14 AB
- Starlin Castro .286/.286/.357 with 0 HR, 0 BB, and 3 K in 14 AB
- Gary Sanchez .364/.364/1.000 with 2 HR, 0 BB, and 4 K in 11 AB
Kluber has absolutely dominated the majority of the Yankees’ hitters, with the exception of rookie sensation Gary Sanchez.
I’m pretty surprised that the Yankees have cut this series down to a single deciding game but I’m finding it difficult to convince myself that they have much of a chance of winning game five. Sabathia is a pitcher well past his prime up against a pitcher who’s currently sitting in the midst of his prime. Cleveland has the better starting pitcher, better lineup, better defense, and arguably better bullpen. The Indians win this game and advance to the ALCS against the Astros, in what should be a spectacular matchup.
Pick: Indians -175
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