The AL Central looks as if it will go down to the wire this season between the Indians, Twins and White Sox. Cleveland and Minnesota open their final series of the regular season against one another on Friday in the Twin Cities.

How to Bet Indians at Twins MLB Odds & TV Info

Why Bet on Cleveland?

The Indians boosted their bullpen this week by calling up Kyle Nelson. The 24-year-old left-hander posted an impressive 2.28 ERA and 69/14 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings last season in the minors. To make room, Cleveland optioned RHP Adam Cimber to their alternate training site. Cimber has registered a 4.22 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 5/1 K/BB ratio in 10 2/3 innings of relief this year. Cimber, 30, led Indians relievers in appearances (68) out of the bullpen in 2019 after joining the club at the 2018 trade deadline from San Diego along with Brad Hand in exchange for top prospect Francisco Mejia.

Indians acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said that he was not seeing the wipeout slider Cimber needs in order to pitch effectively. Part of that had to do with Cimber’s inability to throw his sinker for a strike.

“He has to establish, in my opinion, the sinker in in order to throw the slider away,” Alomar said. “The sinker is getting too much plate.”

Alomar Jr. is managing because Terry Francona is away due to illness but not COVID-19. Not long ago, he had having surgery for a gastrointestinal issue at the Cleveland Clinic and then complications from blood clotting. A six-time All-Star catcher for the Indians, Alomar had been a candidate for several managerial openings in the past.

It’s ace Shane Bieber (7-0) on the mound. He might not only win the Cy Young but the AL MVP. Bieber had his shortest outing of the season but still whiffed 10 over five innings in the Indians’ 4-1 win over the Brewers on Sunday. The Brewers made him work, forcing Bieber to throw 103 pitches over his five frames. They only scratched across one run, though, on a Jacob Nottingham infield single in the fifth. Bieber escaped further damage in that inning by fanning Keston Hiura and then Christian Yelich with the bases loaded.

The right-hander now has six double-digit strikeout games in nine tries. No other pitcher has more than four. The 25-year-old is the clear favorite to win the American League Cy Young as he leads the AL wins (seven), ERA (1.25) and strikeouts (94).

On Aug. 20, Bieber beat the Twins – he yielded two runs in six innings and struck out 10.

Why Bet on Minnesota?

The Twins are 4-3 vs. the Indians this year.

Starting catcher Mitch Garver (intercostal) is starting to ramp up baseball activity this week. He hit the injured list two and a half weeks ago with a right intercostal strain. If all goes well, he should be back for the final week or two of the regular season. After slugging 31 homers last year, Garver is slashing .154/.262/.212 with one homer in 52 at-bats in 2020.

In his career, Garver has as chase rate of 17.2, and in 2019 was a bit above that at 17.4. For 2020, he’s only chasing 10.2% of pitches, which means he’s not just swinging at bad pitches.  The solid contact increase from 2018 to 2019 (from 6.0 to 10.6 percent) was a key to Garver’s breakout, and this has fallen back to 7.7%. More notably, he has dropped from barreling 15.5% of pitches to only 3.8%. Rookie Ryan Jeffers has been handling most of the catching duties in his place.

If the Indians’ Bieber doesn’t win MVP, it could be Twins DH Nelson Cruz – he’s among the AL leaders in most offensive categories. Cruz’s 15 homers through 45 games were the most through 45 games in Twins history. This season, he became the second player in club history to homer in each game of a doubleheader twice in one season, joining Harmon Killebrew in 1966.

When you look at Baseball Reference, Cruz is tied for third among position players, with a 1.9 WAR, and second in Offensive WAR (also 1.9). Compare that to his FanGraphs WAR, which leads the American League at 2.2.

The Twins have yet to announce their starting pitcher for this game. More likely than not, it will be a bullpen game, something they’ve implemented a few times already this season. That means it will probably be Matt Wisler getting things started but only going an inning or two.

Wisler did another terrific job as the Twins’ opener in the second game last Friday’s doubleheader against the Tigers, striking out three over two scoreless innings. The right-hander walked one and didn’t allow a hit in his two innings of work. Wisler has now functioned as the Twins’ opener on four different occasions this season — hurling 7⅔ scoreless innings with an 11/5 K/BB ratio. For the season, he sports a spectacular 0.96 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 18 ⅔ innings.

Expert Prediction

Indians 4, Twins 1

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