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BettorIQ’s MLB Betting Preview: Cleveland Indians

MLB

Today continues BettorIQ’s 2020 MLB betting previews. Over the course of the next few months, we will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective.

Cleveland Indians
2019 Record: 93-69
2019 Profits: -4.1 units
2020 Win Total: 86 (based on 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win AL Central: +345
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +1485
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +3000

Betting Positives: The Indians may have missed their window to win a World Series but there’s still star power around and a manager who continues to win games year in and year out. While Francisco Lindor’s status with the team moving forward remains up in the air, should he return, he and Jose Ramirez and a stable of solid arms offer a good foundation. In the dugout will be Terry Francona who enters his eighth season. After eight years in Boston where he posted 57.4% winning percentage, Francona has led the Indians to a similar 56.4%. Francona has now won 85 or more games in 14 of 15 seasons. With a few bigger names like Corey Kluber, Yasiel Puig, and Jason Kipnis gone from the clubhouse, the Tribe might appear to be a team reshuffling as they cut spending. But plenty of ability remains. Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis always seem to maximize their pitching talent. And helping matters is an American League Central that features two teams projected to win less than 70 games in Kansas City and Detroit, while Chicago is perhaps a year away from really contending. 

Betting Negatives: The Indians have yet to give an indication that they’re still all-in for this season, and a franchise altering trade involving Lindor could exist at any point. The organization is essentially trying to thread the needle between rebuilding and staying in contention. While the Indians do still possess talented arms despite the losses of Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber, questions do remain. Is Shane Bieber ready to step into the role of an ace? Are Carlos Carrasco’s medical issues finally behind him? How much of an impact can Francona and Willis have on the staff once you get past Bieber and Mike Clevinger? In the field, the outfield is uncertain and Ramirez saw his WAR drop from 7.6 to 3.4 in one season. Catcher Roberto Perez, now 31 years old, will be tasked with replicating a career season. And steady first baseman Carlos Santana will again be asked to help anchor a lineup at age 34.  

Handicapper’s Take: Bettors are likely to see a price drop on the Indians after last season’s -155 moneyline average. Even with 93 wins, the Tribe failed to finish the season profitable. Due to the loss of key personnel and Lindor’s iffy status, oddsmakers were comfortable calling for a six-game regression. But as mentioned, talent still remains and bettors should feel at least some comfort in the stellar track record of the front office and coaching staff. And after back-to-back seasons of high expectations, perhaps we see a return to a more under-the-radar status like 2016 and 2017 when Cleveland banked a combined +23 units. In terms of betting angles, it’s setting up well for another season of UNDER profits. Last year, the Tribe went 71-87-4 O/U and with questions surrounding the lineup and a pitching staff that has finished in the top 10 in WAR for six straight seasons, we could see a similar output in 2020. Another betting angle to monitor will be Cleveland’s notoriously slow starts. The Indians have gone 84-89 in March and April under Francona’s watch. That coupled with an abbreviated season could spell doom for a team with parts to sell.