Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#917 Cleveland Indians -130 vs.
#918 Toronto Blue Jays 8.5
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 7:07pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The Cleveland Indians will conclude their three-game series on the road at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday evening when they take on the lowly Toronto Blue Jays.

Cleveland has seized control of its destiny after taking control of the Wild Card race in the American League. Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Tribe have moved within three games of the division-leading Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. Can the Indians stay hot as they close out their series in Toronto on Wednesday night?

Bieber hoping to rebound vs. Blue Jays

The Tribe are scheduled to turn to right-hander Shane Bieber on Wednesday as they get set to close out their series in Toronto. Bieber has been a valuable member of the Indians’ rotation in 2019, going 9-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). He’s more than doubled his WAR (2.3) compared to last season (1.0) in a comparable amount of service time, and perhaps more importantly for the Indians, his strikeout rate has sky-rocketed to a healthy 11.29 batters per nine innings of work. If it stands, that number would be by far the highest rate of his professional career and he carries strong peripherals as well. Bieber’s xFIP (3.14) is more than a half-run lower than his current ERA and he’s done it by throwing more off-speed stuff in 2019. Last season, Bieber relied on his fastball, throwing it 57.3 percent of the time. That number is down to 45.2 percent in 2019 and he’s increased the frequency of all three of his breaking balls to help keep hitters off-balance. 

Bieber, who was the All-Star Game MVP, was excellent in his only start of the season versus the Blue Jays. He limited Toronto to two earned runs on two hits, while striking out nine Blue Jays’ hitters in six innings of work on April 5. He tossed 6 ⅓ frames of four-run ball (three earned) in his only other career start against them last season. 

Wednesday could be Stroman’s last start in Toronto

With the trade deadline right around the corner, Wednesday’s start could end up being Stroman’s final outing in a Blue Jays’ uniform. Toronto is expected to deal the right-hander to a contending team before the July 31 deadline and the Yankees are among the teams interested in the Blue Jays’ ace. Stroman enters with a 6-10 overall record to go along with a stellar 3.06 ERA and he was stellar in his last outing versus the Detroit Tigers. He turned in his second straight quality start, shutting out the Tigers over seven innings of work, striking out five batters and allowing just six hits on the night.

Stroman’s only start versus the Tribe, he pitched well despite being saddled with the loss. He tossed six innings of three-run ball in a 3-1 loss on April 7. That’s been the case for Stroman against the Indians over the past three-plus seasons, as he went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous five starts against Cleveland dating back to the 2016 season. According to Baseball Savant, Indians’ hitters are batting .255 in 112 plate appearances off the Blue Jays’ ace coming into this game. 

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The Indians have won each of the last five meetings between these two teams and Toronto is just 2-5 in Stroman’s last seven starts against the Indians. While Stroman has been solid for the Blue Jays this season and against the Indians throughout his career, it’s hard to side with Toronto in this spot. Bieber has taken a major step forward in his development this season and he’s won seven of his last eight decisions. The Indians have been one of the hottest teams in the American League over the past two months, so take Cleveland to close out this series with a victory on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Cleveland Indians

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These two teams have stayed under the projected total in 13 of their last 19 meetings in Toronto and six of Stroman’s last seven starts versus the Tribe.  Both of these starters are enjoying very good seasons for their respective ballclubs and Stroman seems to have turned things up a notch as he auditions for contending teams. Look for this game to stay under the projected total once again when these two teams meet in Toronto on Wednesday night. 

Prediction: Under

Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. He uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits.