The Cleveland Indians will journey to the Nation’s Capital on Saturday night for the middle game of a three-game series to close out the 2019 regular season. The Nationals have already clinched their ticket to October baseball and are now looking to lockdown home field advantage. The Tribe, on the other hand, is in a fierce battle for a Wild Card spot in the American League. This game figures to be an important one for both teams on Saturday.
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- Date and Time: Saturday, September 28>, 2019, at 4:05 p.m. ET
- Location: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
- 2019 MLB Betting Odds at Betcris: (Check Back Later)
- Indians vs. Nationals 2019 MLB TV Coverage: FS1
With the MLB season winding down, the Nationals could alter their rotation to give some guys rest and keep them fresh for the Wild Card game. Of course, Washington is likely to use Max Scherzer in that game so Patrick Corbin should be kept in rotation and get the start on Saturday. On the Indian’s side, Adam Plutko is in line for the start.
Corbin was the big offseason acquisition for the Nationals, helping them form a three-headed monster at the front of their rotation.
Overall, it was a rather solid season for the veteran southpaw as the 29-year old is 14-7 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.164 WHIP in 197.2 innings, spread over 32 starts. Should he make his 33rd on Saturday, he’ll easily eclipse 200 innings, getting to that threshold for the second time in his career last year.
Corbin comes into play with a 3.38 K:BB ratio and just 21 homers allowed, leading to a 3.35 FIP, in line with the ERA he’s posted to date. While rather effective at keeping the ball in the yard, Corbin has walked a few more batters than he’d like with 68 free passes. Of course, he’s also struck out 230 which has helped him strand runners on base.
The lefty could see his pitch count limited in preparation for October baseball, but he’s generally good for six innings, throwing at least that many in eight of his last nine games. He notched a quality start in all eight games he lasted at least six. Overall, he is 5-2 in his last seven starts, including getting the win his last outing as he held the Phillies to one run on three hits through six.
As for Plutko, the 27-year old right-hander has been an important part of this rotation, filling in for a litany of injuries and doing rather well.
In 20 games, including 19 starts, Plutko has gone 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.222 WHIP. He’s thrown 108 innings in those games.
Those surface numbers are all great for Plutko who has been a more than viable mid-rotation level arm, but some of the peripheral numbers do raise some red flags. The righty has allowed 22 homers, averaging close to two per nine innings. He’s also struck out just 75. Given that, he’s got a less impressive 5.23 FIP.
The luck and defense have helped Plutko, but he’s consistently shown the ability to keep his team in the game. He went just 4.1 innings in his last start but allowed just one run. And while he’s not one to go deep in games, he does limit the opposition. In fact, he’s allowed more than two runs just once in his last seven starts.
Overall, the Indians are 14-6 in Plutko’s 20 appearances.
The Indians have the best bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.50. The Nationals rank dead last at 5.77.
Most of Washington’s bullpen issues date back to the beginning of the year when Sean Doolittle had nobody setting him up.
The closer himself went through a rough spell for a bit in August causing his ERA to balloon, but has been good since coming off the IL, throwing six innings, allowing one run on one hit.
Over the last month, it’s been Daniel Hudson getting the save chances and he’s been solid as well with two earned runs allowed in 10.2 innings. Since joining the Nationals mid-season, Hudson has a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings.
Beyond those two, Wander Suero, Tanner Rainey and Javy Guerra have at last been serviceable. It’s not a great pen, but it’s better than the numbers suggest.
As for the Tribe, Brad Hand is the lockdown closer, but has had a couple of late hiccups, but he’s still a reliable option. Leading up to him, the Terry Francona has a lot of options with Nick Goody, Nick Wittgren, Tyler Clippard and Hunter Wood—amongst others—all providing solid numbers.
The Indians’ offense has been strong in the month of September as it continues to battle for a playoff spot. The team has scored the fourth most runs this month in the AL and one more than the Nationals despite playing two fewer baseball games.
The Indians have also recently gotten Jose Ramirez back off the IL adding some depth to the order. Despite an ice-cold start to the year, the third baseman has a 106 OPS+ for the season and was raking before he got injured.
Ramirez with Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana form a nice core to the order while Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes have provided some much-needed depth.
As for the Nationals, Howie Kendrick continues to be a hitting machine regardless of where he plays on the field.
Meanwhile, Anthony Rendon remains an MVP candidate with a .322/.410/.603 slash line while Juan Soto has the same number of homers, 34, and a nice .957 OPS of his own. The two have combined for 232 RBI, leaving the Nationals saying: “Bryce, who?” this season.
The Nationals have won five of their last six games and are breathing a huge sigh of relief having clinched a playoff spot. This is a team that was 19-31 on May 23. Since then, they’re 69-38.
Like most teams, Washington has also been a better home team than road team with a .592 winning percentage at home.
The Indians, however, have played well both at home and on the road. They’ve got a .579 road record and have won five more games than the Nationals on the year. They’ve also had a strong second half and are 43-26 since the break and 14-7 in September.
These are two interesting offenses going head-to-head, but the Nationals have the advantage thanks to the starting pitching matchup and the venue. Washington will also be playing with less pressure as the Indians are still fighting for a playoff spot.
Look for the Nationals to get take Plutko deep at least once to grab an early lead and while the Washington bullpen has its issues, it’s much improved and better than the overall bullpen ERA would suggest given the insane early season struggles.
The Tribe needs this win more but look for the Nationals to come out on top in their quest to secure homefield advantage in their Wild Card game.
Cleveland Indians vs. Washington Nationals Pick: The Nationals walk away victorious at home.
Cleveland Indians vs. Washington Nationals Score Prediction: Nationals 7, Indians 4