July 7 MLB Preview — Cleveland Indians at Cincinnati Reds

(Trevor Bauer photo courtesy Peter Aiken/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

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: Sunday, July 7, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1:10 p.m. EDT.

All things considered when looking at the injuries that decimated their starting rotation for long stretches, the fact the Cleveland Indians are in the thick of the wild-card race and still in the AL Central hunt is nothing short of stunning.

Trevor Bauer looks to wrap up his first half of the season with a fourth straight win Sunday when the Indians concluder their battle for Ohio bragging rights against the Cincinnati Reds.

Bauer showing form from last two seasons more in recent outings

Bauer (7-6, 3.74 ERA) and All-Star Shane Bieber were the only Indians starters to avoid injuries in the first half of the season that resulted in manager Terry Francona using 11 different pitchers for at least one start.

On Friday night, Carlos Carrasco revealed to a television station in the Dominican Republic he is battling leukemia and expects to return to the team in late July.

Twenty-game winner Corey Kluber has made just seven starts this year due to a broken forearm and Mike Clevinger had been limited to four with back and ankle injuries before returning Thursday.

Danny Salazar, who missed all of 2018 following shoulder surgery, just began his minor league rehab assignment less than two weeks ago.

Bauer, who is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his last five starts, has been part of an Indians turnaround that saw them enter Saturday’s contest with 19 wins in their last 28 contests that has them part of the AL wild-card jam while lurking behind the Minnesota Twins in the Central.

The right-hander tried to pick up his bullpen Tuesday night in Kansas City, allowing five runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings of Cleveland’s 9-5 victory. Bauer threw 107 pitches before Francona lifted him, marking the 16th time in 19 starts he has thrown at least 100 pitches.

Bauer’s recent surge began with a solid outing versus Cincinnati on June 11 in which he worked around six hits and five walks in 7 2-3 innings while conceding just one run. The Indians eventually won that game 2-1 in 10 innings and are 5-0 in Bauer’s last five starts.

The righty is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three interleague starts this year and 4-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his last seven since the start of last year. Bauer has not registered a decision in his last three outings against the Reds despite limiting them to three runs in 21 innings.

Mahle out to avoid fourth straight loss for Reds

Tyler Mahle (2-8, 4.36) is in danger of matching his loss total for all of 2018 in this game. The right-hander, who went 7-9 in his first full season last year, has not gotten much help from the Reds offense during a five-start winless spell.

Mahle is 0-3 with a 4.61 ERA in that stretch, and the Reds have backed him with seven runs. His overall run support average of 3.65 per start was the eighth-lowest in the majors entering play Saturday.

Mahle lasted six-plus innings Monday against Milwaukee, yielding a pair of solo homers and three runs overall as he left without factoring in the decision of Cincinnati’s 8-6 loss. The long ball has been troublesome for Mahle of late — he has served up 10 gopher balls in his last seven starts and 17 in 88 2-3 innings on the season.

“He trusted me to go out for the seventh after we take the lead right there with 90-some pitches, and I blew it,” said Mahle, who had been critical of manager David Bell for a quick hook at times, to the team’s official website. “That’s what I think sucks the most. When your manager has faith in you, and you go out and you blow it.

Going forward, I’m going to have to pitch some really good games to get that chance again, I think.”

Those good games have not come against AL teams as Mahle is 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in four interleague starts this year. Again, run support has been a factor as the Reds have plated two runs in those contests. His lone career start versus the Indians last year was also a disaster — the righty was drilled for seven runs in 2 1-3 innings of a 19-4 shellacking in Cleveland.

Notable Trends:

The Reds are:

  • 4-17 in Mahle’s last 21 starts.
  • 2-9 in Mahle’s last 11 starts vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 4-12 in their last 16 Sunday games.

The Indians are:

  • 10-4 in Bauer’s last 14 road starts.
  • 7-3 in Bauer’s last 10 road starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 4-1 in Bauer’s last five starts vs. NL Central teams.

5-Star Pick!!!!!

Reds UNDER 4 runs (-105)

A confidence pick in Bauer keeping the Reds in check and continuing his strong run in interleague matchups. Cincinnati has been held to four or fewer runs in 12 of its 14 interleague matchups this year, including two of the three games versus Cleveland.

4-Star Picks!!!!

Indians -1.5 runs (+125)

A confidence pick in Bauer closing out the first half of the season strongly for the Indians. The right-hander has a strong track record versus the Reds and in interleague matchups of late, and Cleveland’s recent dominance in this rivalry — the Indians enter this game 14-5 in the last 19 meetings — adds to the confidence.

Indians -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+105)

Though Bauer pitched to a 1-1 stalemate after five innings in his previous start against the Reds, the lack of run support for Mahle of late makes the Indians the pick. Cincinnati has scored just two runs in the first five innings of Mahle’s last five starts and trailed in four of those contests.

Cleveland is also 3-1-1 at the five-inning mark in Bauer’s last five outings.

3-Star Picks!!!

UNDER 9 runs (Even)

The under has been trending strongly with Bauer against the National League, delivering a 17-8 mark in his last 25 interleague starts. The under is also 4-1 in his last five starts versus the Reds and 11-2 in his last 13 against NL Central foes.

The lack of run support for Mahle has also benefited under bettors, with the under 4-0 in his four starts versus AL teams this year. The Reds also have trended hard with the under in interleague play, entering this game 10-1-1 in their last 12 versus AL righties, 8-1-1 in their last 10 at home versus American League teams and 14-2-1 in their last 17 overall against the junior circuit.

UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

The five-inning under has been solidly trending with Cincinnati, going 8-1-1 in the last 10 games and also 3-1-1 in Mahle’s last five starts. It is also 0-5-1 in the Reds’ last six games versus AL opponents and hit in all three games with the Indians.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO to 1st inning run (-105)

Both starters are relatively good first-inning pitchers — Bauer has not given up a run in the opening frame of his last five starts while Mahle has been reached for runs just once in his six outings at home this season.

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