Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

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Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays

After going 7-3 SU during a 10-game homestand right out of the All-Star break, the Cleveland Indians are back out on the road today, as they are north of the border to take on the Blue Jays. The Indians managed to pick up 2.5 games on the Minnesota Twins since the All-Star break, and for those of you that are high on Cleveland's prospects like I am, to gain that type of ground in about 10 days of action is a nice early gain.

The Indians can't let off the gas pedal though as they continue to get these series against bad teams, and with Minnesota hosting the Yankees to begin the week, there is a real opportunity for Cleveland to continue to shrink that gap in the AL Central by week's end. They can't overlook this Toronto team that is much better then the one they swept in a four-game set in Cleveland back at the beginning of April, as the Jays have come into their own since then and are taking those necessary first steps in terms of learning how to win with a young, rebuilding team.

So will this Indians team take advantage of a third straight series against a foe that's 20+ games below the .500 mark, or will they get caught looking past this Toronto team tonight?

MLB Odds: Cleveland (-170) vs Toronto (+160); Total set at 9

Toronto may be a completely different, and arguably much better version of themselves then the one that faced Cleveland in those early April days, but while they did lose all four games in that series, three of the four were rather close. Victories of 4-1, 3-1, and 3-2 for Cleveland were surprising in the sense that those contests were so close, and with home field flipped this time around, and the Jays seemingly being a better team overall, we could end up seeing this series be just as tight.

But Cleveland is a much better version of themselves as well, as they appeared to have made the decision in mid-June to stop screwing around with .500-type baseball and play up to their full potential as often as they can. Their deficit to Minnesota was in the double-digits in the early part of June, and since then it's just been piling up win after win to close the gap. Realistically, the Indians could end up passing the Twins by the time July comes to a close (Cleveland's got road matchups against Toronto and Kansas City this week while the Twins are on the road against the Yankees and White Sox), but they've got to keep focused on the goal and not get caught in potential letdown spots. After three straight home series against AL Central rivals, going out on the road to face a bad non-division foe is one of those potential negative scenarios for the Indians.

Toronto has been more feisty in recent weeks against quality competition, putting scares in teams like Boston and the Yankees in a handful of games recently. This is their first game back at home since the All-Star break, and with significant changes likely coming to their roster with the trade deadline nearing, who knows how much younger this roster gets in August.

It's along those lines that Toronto has activated starter Ryan Borucki tonight from the 60-day IL with elbow issues, as it really is time to have all their talented young prospects become a MLB “core” going forward. Borucki's not new to the majors by any means as he was a consistent part of Toronto's rotation in 2018, but first start back from a significant injury against a very good team like Cleveland is not an ideal spot for success. Situationally, it basically negates the potential “trap” spot for Cleveland, as I'm not sure how you can trust Borucki to be special in his MLB return.

So even with the concerns for Cleveland being out on the road for the first time in awhile, and possibly scoreboard watching the Twins with one eye during most of this game, laying the chalk here is the only way to go. For one, the Twins game with New York starts an hour later then this game does for Cleveland, so they can try and jump out to an early lead before scoreboard watching potentially becomes a distraction, and while both Cleveland and Toronto are improved since those first meetings this year, it's Cleveland that's the far better team overall. The Indians are 5th best in the AL in terms of team batting average vs lefties, and they get to face a southpaw that's got plenty of rust to shake off.

With Toronto slated to start Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman (in his probable final game in a Toronto uniform) the rest of this series, Cleveland understands that they've got to have this series opener for sure. Things are going to get tougher for them from a pitching matchup standpoint the rest of the series, and you've got to take advantage of games you're expected to win comfortably. A 23-8 SU run overall is plenty of momentum to carry into this game for the Indians, and with a 19-7 SU run going against southpaws, and finishing their pre-All Star break season with a 6-0 SU run going on the road, this is chalk bettors shouldn't be afraid to lay tonight.

The Indians probably don't sweep this series, but it's more then reasonable to expect them to win this series in the end, and with that as the big picture result and working backwards from there, tonight's game ends up in a W for Cleveland fans.

MLB Best Bet: Cleveland ML -170

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