7:10 PM EST – Line: Mets -137, Over/Under: 8.5
Surging Playoff hopefuls meet in a key Interleague showdown, as the red-hot New York Mets play host to the sizzling Cleveland Indians in the final leg of a three-game series from Citi Field in New York, New York. If you’re looking for a dark-horse candidate to disrupt the balance of power in the American League, then look no further than the Indians (74-51, 2nd in AL Central), who look poised to return to the Playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, whether it be by winning their Division or by securing a Wild Card. Heading into this series, Cleveland stands two full games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, while holding a tenuous grip on the first Wild Card, 1.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the Standings. Needless to say, there is still plenty left to be decided for Terry Francona’s charges, who like their opponent tonight, overcame a slow start to the season, building up a torrent of momentum. Since Jun 1st, the Tribe has gone a staggering 47-22, thanks to an excellent Pitching Staff and an Offense that has slowly improved as the year has progressed; since the All-Star Break, they’ve batted a much-improved .271, averaging 5.4 Runs per Game on 9.3 Hits, with Eighty-Four Doubles and Fifty-Nine Home Runs. To keep the good times rolling, Cleveland acquired Yasiel Puig (.265 BA, 115 G, 114 H, 59 R, 20 2B, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 16 SB, 29 BB, 102 K) in a three-time deal, while Carlos Santana (.292 BA, 122 G, 128 H, 89 R, 23 2B, 29 HR, 78 RBI, 91 BB 79 K) continues to enjoy his return to the franchise after a brief, but mediocre stay in Philadelphia. Taking the mound tonight for the Indians will be Aaron Civale (1-2, 1.50 ERA, 4 GS, 24.0 IP, 17 H, 5 R, 6 BB, 22 K, 0.958 WHIP), a seldom-used Rookie whom has made just four appearances this season. With just six weeks remaining in the Regular Season, Francona is trying to steal as many games as possible as his already stellar Starting Rotation comes into focus, particularly after trading away Trevor Bauer (9-8, 3.79 ERA, 24 GS, 156.2 IP, 127 H, 76 R, 22 HR, 63 BB, 185 K, 1.213 WHIP), and awaiting the return of their ace, Corey Kluber (2-3, 5.80 ERA, 7 GS, 35.2 IP, 44 H, 26 R, 4 HR, 15 BB, 38 K, 1.654 WHIP). The former Cy Young hasn’t pitched since May 1st due to a non-displaced fracture of his Right Ulna Bone, leading to a stay on the 60-Day Disabled List, which has lasted longer than originally projected following setback. Now, it’s looking far more likely that he won’t be ready to return to action until sometime in September. A former Third Round Pick in the 2016 Amateur Draft, Civale has performed well when called upon, totaling Twenty-Two Strikeouts in comparison to just Six Walks, while registering a stellar 1.50 ERA and 0.958 WHIP in his limited time on the mound. When we last saw him, the 24-Year Old was solid in a tough 2-3 loss at the New York Yankees, relinquishing Three Runs (Two Earned) on Eight Hits, with Four Strikeouts opposed to a pair of Walks over Six Innings of labor. While it’s still too early for him to become a regular contributor to the Rotation, he could perhaps provide solid support in the Bullpen come the Playoffs, where he will no doubt be needed against the powerful Lineups of the Twins, Astros, and the aforementioned Yankees.
Meanwhile, given how poorly they played over the first half of the campaign, nobody could have aw the Mets (64-60, 3rd in NL East) coming. A meager 40-50 heading into the All-Star Break, New York has effectively dug themselves out of the proverbial doldrums, going a stellar 24-10 since the Midsummer Classic, firmly entrenching themselves into contention for a Wild Card. At the moment, Mickey Callaway’s club remain just two full games out of the final spot in the National League, and with roughly six weeks left in the Regular Season, there is still plenty of time to scale the Standings. A big reason for their ascendance has been an Offense that has finally heated up; before the break, the Metropolitans were outscored by an average of 0.51 Runs per Game but since them have bested their opponents by a much-improved margin of 1.82 Runs per Contest. In the month of August, they’ve batted .301 and slugged .504 with a solid OPS of .866, scoring Ninety-Nine Runs, while belting Thirty-Five Doubles and Twenty-Seven Home Runs, which over the course of seventeen games is on pace to quickly surpass their totals in the month of July. At the heart of their power surge has been a Rookie, who for all intents purposes has performed well beyond his years, for Pete Alonso (.271 BA, 123 G, 121 H, 76 R, 25 2B, 40 HR, 95 RBI, 59 BB, 133 K) has been absolutely invaluable for the Mets. The All-Star First-Baseman just recently broke the Single-Season Record for a Rookie with Forty Home Runs, Taking the mound tonight for the Mets will be Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.86 ERA, 24 GS, 154.0 IP, 144 H, 72 R, 15 HR, 42 BB, 151 K, 1.208 WHIP), who to the surprise of many, is still very much a member of the club after the Trade Deadline. For months, it appeared that New York were destined to be big-time sellers come July 31st, with the ace appearing to be one of their most likely bargaining pieces, though they ultimately could not find a suitor willing to pay the heavy price required to procure the services of the young Righthander. And as it turned out, there is no doubt that Callaway & Co. are elated to have kept him, for since the Deadline they’ve gone 12-5, with Syndergaard starting in two of those victories. When we last saw him, the 26-Year Old found himself on the wrong side of a 1-4 loss at the lowly Kansas City Royals, despite yielding just Two Runs on Five Hits with Six Strikeouts in comparison to a pair of Walks over the course of Six Innings of labor.