The battle for Ohio bragging rights continues Wednesday when the Cleveland Indians host the Cincinnati Reds for the third game of a four-game series. The Indians are slight favorites in the game with a money line of -127 compared to Cincinnati’s +110.
After getting off to an atrocious start, the Reds had won three in a row before losing Tuesday’s game against the Indians. Cincinnati is now 5-6 despite high expectations coming into the season. The good news is that they are somehow second in the NL Central at the moment. However, they are already four games behind the Cubs atop the division.
The Indians have also had a disappointing start to the season. Cleveland has watched both the Twins and White Sox get hot early in the season and surge to the top of the AL Central. Meanwhile, the Tribe is just 6-6 on the young season after snapping a four-game losing streak with Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Cincinnati.
Cleveland will send Mike Clevinger to the mound on Wednesday. The team figured Clevinger would be their ace this season, but things haven’t played out like that early in the year. He was solid in his first start, only to get knocked around by the Twins in his last outing.
While other members of Cleveland’s rotation have excelled, Clevinger currently owns a 4.91 ERA and needs to get going if the Indians are going to become challengers.
Clevinger will face a Cincinnati lineup that’s mostly been held in check this year, with Nick Castellanos being the obvious exception. Castellanos is hitting .368 with six home runs over his first 11 games.
Joey Votto and Nick Senzel have also started strong, although the rest of the Cincinnati lineup is struggling to get going despite plenty of power. The good news for Clevinger is that Castellanos is just 3 for 19 (.158) against him in his career.
Who’s That Guy?
Rookie Tejay Antone will start Wednesday’s game for the Reds, who require a spot starter after playing a double-header on Sunday. The 26-year-old allowed just one run on one hit over 4.1 innings in a relief outing against the Cubs last month in his major league debut.
He posted solid but unspectacular numbers in the minors last season. However, he’s stretched out like a starter and should be able to give Cincinnati at least five or six innings if all goes well.
Antone will get to face a Cleveland lineup that’s struggled to produce early in the season. In all likelihood, over half of the hitters in Cleveland’s lineup will be hitting below .200 on the season. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor have done their best to carry the load, although neither is red-hot and the moment, and they’re not getting much support from the rest of the lineup.
An untested rookie like Antone is a wild card in this game. But with Cleveland’s lineup producing just 12 runs over the team’s last seven games, there’s no guarantee the Indians will score more than a couple of runs against Antone.
That will give the Cincinnati lineup a chance to manufacture something against Clevinger. Bet on the Reds as underdogs to beat the Indians on Wednesday.
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