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#965 Cleveland Indians -120 vs.
#966 Texas Rangers 9.5
Monday, June 17, 2019 at 8:05pm EDT
Written by Chris Altruda

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Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers

When and Where: Monday, June 17, Globe Life Park at Arlington, Texas, 8:05 p.m. EDT.

The injury-riddled Cleveland Indians finally get a piece of their starting rotation back as Mike Clevinger gets the ball for Monday night’s series opener versus the Texas Rangers.

Clevinger looks to bring stability, quality to Tribe rotation

Clevinger (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has made just two starts this season, with the last coming April 7 when he strained his upper back.

The right-hander, who won a combined 25 games in 2017-18, is returning to the Indians ahead of schedule after it was originally estimated it would be 6-to-8 weeks before he could catch a baseball. Clevinger was sharp in his second rehab outing with Double-A Erie on Tuesday, scattering three hits in 5 1-3 shutout innings while hitting the mid-90s with his fastball.

“Last night was really good,” Indians manager Terry Francona told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Will he be able to command all his pitches the way he did with six weeks in spring training with a couple starts? I don’t know. You hope. But we’ll keep an eye on him and try to build him up in a way that he can stay healthy and be healthy and productive, but sure is exciting to see what he’s doing.”

“I was trying to come back and throw the next day,” Clevinger said. “I asked them every day even though I knew the timeline. I was like, ‘I feel good, can I throw today?’ I asked them every day to the point they that they were just getting (mad) at me for asking.

“I just saw the timeline and I was like, if anything, I want to be back before the All-Star break. I always had that in my mind, that I wanted to be back before then.”

Clevinger is 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three career starts versus Texas, striking out 23 in 19 1-3 innings while holding opponents to a .191 batting average. The Indians have not given the righty much to work with in terms of run support, totaling one run in those games.

He took a loss in the most recent matchup, giving up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-0 road defeat July 22. Clevinger, though, has dominated Elvis Andrus, striking out the Rangers shortstop four times while holding him hitless in seven at-bats.

Clevleland is coming off a three-game sweep of Detroit in which it racked up 25 runs and 40 hits following Sunday’s 8-0 romp. Rookie center fielder Oscar Mercado drove in a season-high four runs and went 7 for 15 in the three wins.

Trade rumors picking up around Lynn

Though the Rangers are five games over .500 and in the AL wild-card hunt, that has not stopped Lance Lynn‘s name from being talked about in trade rumors.

Lynn (7-4, 4.40) has recorded quality starts in his last seven outings and is looking for his fourth win in five decisions. He has not recorded decisions in his last two starts after yielding three runs and six hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Boston on Wednesday.

“It’s a little frustrating because you get a two-run lead and you let them one at a time trickle away,” Lynn told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Benintendi is the guy that got me the most. I made a couple pitches in I didn’t hate, and he just put good swings on them.”

Lynn has won both his career starts versus Cleveland, one in 2015 and most recently last year. He limited the Indians to one run ands two hits in six innings of a 7-1 victory June 2, 2018, while pitching for Minnesota.

Texas was thwarted in its bid for a three-game sweep at Cincinnati on Sunday, losing 11-3. The Rangers, though, have won four of their last six series while splitting the other two.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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It is unknown if Clevinger is going to be on a pitch count for this game being it is his first start in two-plus months — he believes he can get to 90 pitches — but Lynn’s ability to battle and grind out results makes the Rangers the pick as they open a seven-game homestand and run of 10 games versus AL Central teams.

Texas is settling into the wild-card race since catching Houston appears to be a task too great, and this stretch of schedule is where the Rangers can separate themselves from some of the teams hovering around the .500 mark.

Prediction: Rangers +105

Full-Game Total Pick

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The under is trending with both Lynn and the Rangers, going 5-0 in Lynn’s last five starts and 12-5 in Texas’ last 17 overall. The under has also delivered a 10-3 mark in the Rangers’ last 13 home games and a 6-1 record in their last seven series openers.

Clevinger throws some risk into this pick in his first outing back, but he is a battler like Lynn, and that raises confidence in the under delivering in this series opener.

Prediction: UNDER 9.5 runs (-121)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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A confidence pick in Lynn, who has held opponents to two runs in each of his last three home starts while striking out 26 in 19 1-3 innings. Even with Cleveland’s impressive pop versus Detroit, the Indians have been held under 4.5 runs in 12 of their 16 games versus AL West teams.

Prediction: Indians UNDER 4.5 runs (-105)

First Five Innings Side Pick

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This is a toss-up pick to a degree because no one really knows what Clevinger is going to bring to this start, and the Rangers have not given Lynn much support despite his improved form — they have trailed after five innings in three of his last four starts.

It is unreasonable to think Clevinger will pick up where he left off and continue his 12-inning shutout streak from his first two starts of the year, but he is worth a flyer to be pitching with a lead in a low-scoring first five innings.

Prediction: Indians -0.5 runs (+111)

First Five Innings Total Bet

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There is confidence in both pitchers to deliver solid outings, though there is some concern about Clevinger’s second go-round against Texas’ lineup as his pitch count climbs. This is still a solid pick, though, as the five-inning under is 6-1 in Lynn’s last seven starts.

Prediction: UNDER 5 runs (-115)

First Five Innings Prop Prediction

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The equivalent of picking “no” for a first-inning run, the hedge is Clevinger gets through the opening frame unscathed in his return while Lynn tosses a scoreless first for the fifth time in seven starts at home this year. The Indians’ first-inning run in Sunday’s win was their first in the last nine games.

Prediction: UNDER 0.5 runs first inning (-115)

Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is a freelance sportswriter based in Chicago. He has worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Can be followed on Twitter at @AlTruda73.