(Mike Clevinger photo courtesy Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Monday, July 22, Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ont., 7:07 p.m. EDT.
Mike Clevinger looks to continue making up for lost time Monday night when the Cleveland Indians begin a week-long road trip with the first of three games versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
Clevinger seeks first back-to-back winning starts in 2019
After an upper back injury and sprained ankle limited Clevinger (3-2, 3.57 ERA) to five starts in the first three months of the season, the right-hander has been stellar through his three July starts bracketing the All-Star break.
Clevinger was sharp Wednesday against Detroit, holding the Tigers to one run in six innings while matching a season-high with 12 strikeouts in a 7-2 victory. He has fanned 27 in 17 innings in his three July starts, conceding only two runs and four extra-base hits while elevating his pitch count from 79 to 92 to 100.
“Really good stuff,” Indians manager Terry Francona told the club’s official website. “A lot of deep counts. It’s going to come with as many strikeouts as he had. But I thought his stuff was tremendous.”
Clevinger beat Toronto before his two injuries, holding the Blue Jays to one hit over five shutout innings while striking out 10 in a 3-1 victory April 7. The righty is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three career starts versus Toronto.
Justin Smoak is the only Blue Jays player with more than one hit versus Clevinger, going 2 for 4 with a homer.
The Indians (57-41) wrapped up a 7-3 homestand with a 5-4 victory over Kansas City on Sunday as Jose Ramirez‘s solo homer in the sixth snapped a 2-all tie. Cleveland has won 12 of 15 games this month to draw within three games of Minnesota in the AL Central and climb atop the wild-card standings.
Borucki to make season debut after Jays drop Sanchez from rotation
It was a move arguably long overdue, but the Blue Jays (38-63) dropped Aaron Sanchez from the rotation after he became the first major league pitcher in 70 years to lose in 10 consecutive appearances following Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Boston.
In his place will be Ryan Borucki (NR), who will make his season debut after missing the first four months of the season with left elbow pain. The 25-year-old cracked Toronto’s rotation last year and went 4-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 17 starts after a mid-season call-up.
“I’m just going to be treating it like any other start,” Borucki told SportsNet.ca. “But I’m going to be anxious. I’m going to be anxious to get back to Toronto and pitch again.”
The lefty — who has never faced the Indians — made a pair of rehab starts at Triple-A Buffalo, allowing seven runs in 11 innings. But the more important goal of building his arm strength and pitch count while remaining pain-free was accomplished as he registered at least 80 pitches in both outings.
Toronto was denied a three-game road sweep of Detroit with a 4-3, 10-inning loss Sunday that capped a 4-6 trip. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a game-tying two-run homer in the ninth and is 9 for 28 with a pair of homers and six extra-base hits in his last six games.
The Blue Jays are:
- 5-16 in their last 21 during game 1 of a series.
- 11-29 in their last 40 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 1-6 in their last seven home games vs. teams with an above-.500 road record.
The Indians are:
- 6-1 in Clevinger’s last seven starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 6-0 in their last six road games.
- 10-2 in their last 12 games following a win.
Indians -1.5 runs (-121)
The Indians stifled the Blue Jays in sweeping a four-game series between the teams in April in Cleveland, holding them to six runs. Clevinger was impressive in that series, and now that he appears to be 100 percent, there is every reason to believe he should have another sharp outing and help the Indians keep pressure on the Twins.
Borucki was an effective pitcher at home as a rookie, going 2-3 with a 2.64 ERA in seven starts, but the feeling is Clevinger is just going to be too good as Cleveland runs its road winning streak to seven games.
Clevinger OVER 7.5 strikeouts (-110)
Clevinger is expected to be at full throttle for this game after ramping up his pitch count following the All-Star break, and after a 12-strikeout performance in his last outing, the expectation is he will blow through a Blue Jays lineup that is fifth in the AL with 914 strikeouts.
The righty had 10 strikeouts in five innings on just 75 pitches in his previous start this year against Toronto, and his current form gives every indication he could reach double figures once more.
Indians 3-way money line (-131)
The 3-way money line is offering a slightly better return than laying the half-run with the Indians (-136), and Clevinger’s form over his last three starts offers confidence here. He has yielded one run in the first five innings of his last three starts combined, and the Indians have trailed just twice at the midway point in the 10 games since the All-Star break (5-2-3).
Toronto, which failed to grab a five-run lead while being swept at Cleveland in April (0-3-1), led just once after five innings on its just-completed road swing (1-7-2).
UNDER 9 runs (-105)
Borucki was a solid pitcher at home for the Blue Jays as a rookie, going 2-3 with a 2.64 ERA in seven starts and delivering the under in six of them. The lefty allowed more than two runs just once and pitched at least six innings in all but one of them.
While a potential pitch count could keep Borucki from a six-inning start, there is every reason to believe he will keep the Blue Jays in touching distance and help the under deliver.
The under is 9-4 in Toronto’s last 13 games and 13-5 in its last 18 versus Cleveland at home. It also went 3-1 in the four-game series at Progressive Field in April.
UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-115)
Unsurprisingly, Clevinger’s form has helped the five-inning under deliver each time during his three-start run, but the Indians have not done much offensively in those games, totaling seven runs in those games.
While Borucki is the X-factor in this pick, he offers plenty of promise for the under. The left-hander helped Toronto hold six of seven opponents to one or no runs at home in 2018.
UNDER 3 runs first 3 innings (-136)
Clevinger lends confidence to this pick, with the biggest concern being the top of the first. Borucki had a 5.91 ERA in the first inning last year and gave up runs in the opening frame in four of his seven starts at Rogers Centre.
If he works through the adrenaline of his return and holds Cleveland to one or no runs, the under should deliver here.