MLB Odds and Predictions: Red Sox vs. Tigers Series Picks
by Darin Zank - 4/4/2012
Baseball bettors can finally rejoice; The “true” Opening Day has arrived. And to start things off we get a matchup of American League playoff contenders as the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers get together for a three-game series at Comerica Park starting Thursday afternoon.
Boston, after missing the playoffs last year, made some changes over the offseason, including at the manager spot, where Bobby Valentine takes over for Terry Francona. But the Sox still possess a very good top of the pitching rotation and still send a dangerous everyday lineup to the plate. So they are fully expected to contend once again for a playoff spot this year.
Detroit, meanwhile, is coming off an American League Central Division title, and they've since added big bopper Prince Fielder to their lineup. But they took a hit earlier this spring when catcher Victor Martinez was declared out for the season because of a knee injury.
Detroit is listed at -350 to win the AL Central this season, 4/1 to win the AL pennant and 15/2 for Tigers odds to win the World Series.
Bovada has also pegged Boston with a regular-season wins 'over/under' of 90.5, Detroit at 91.5.
As for this weekend's series, let's take a little closer look at the matchup.
Red Sox vs. Tigers Storylines
Boston suffered through an epic collapse last September and basically gave away a playoff spot. Shortly thereafter they lost Francona and later lost closer Jonathan Papelbon, who bolted for Philadelphia.
As for this spring the Red Sox got good news and bad news on the injury front earlier this week. The good news was pitcher Josh Beckett, who's been dealing with a sore thumb on his throwing hand, got the green light to make his start Saturday. But projected closer Andrew Bailey, also bothered by a bad thumb, will have to have surgery and will miss most of this season.
In Bailey's absence, Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon are the most likely candidates to close games for Boston.
Detroit sports a pretty good 1-2-3 at the top of the rotation, bolstered its bullpen with the addition of Octavio Dotel, and they shouldn't have too much trouble scoring runs again. The one big question about the Tigers this season, though, is how many balls they'll boot with Miguel Cabrera playing third and Fielder at first. There's a decent chance Detroit will lead the league in unearned runs allowed this year.
Series Pitching Matchups
Justin Verlander (who else?) will start Thursday's game for Detroit vs. Jon Lester for Boston (1 p.m. Eastern). Verlander, as you might recall, won not the just the AL Cy Young Award last year, but was also named league MVP after leading the league in wins, earned run average and strikeouts.
Lefty Lester, meanwhile, is coming off another solid season in which he won 15 games with a 3.47 ERA.
Lester didn't pitch vs. Detroit last year, but in 2010 he started twice vs. the Tigers, allowing eight earned runs on 15 hits in 13 innings pitched. Boston lost both those games.
Verlander started twice last year vs. the Red Sox, allowing three ERs on 10 hits in 15 2/3 innings of work. The Tigers went 1-1 in those games, and both those games played under their totals.
The teams take Friday off then resume this series Saturday, when Beckett is slated to throw against an as-yet unnamed Detroit starter (4 p.m. Eastern, Fox).
Beckett posted a decent comeback season last year, going 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA, allowing just 146 hits in 193 IP, after going 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA in 2010. And he was pretty good in his two starts against Detroit last year, giving up three ERs on 10 hits in 12 IP. Both those games stayed under their totals.
Starters have not yet been announced for Sunday's series finale (1 p.m. Eastern).
Sox vs. Tigers Head-to-Head
Boston took five of six games from Detroit last year, sweeping two games at Fenway Park and taking three of four games from the Tigers at Comerica.
Red Sox vs. Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
Bookmaker is listing Verlander and the Tigers as -147 favorites for Thursday's game, with an over/under of seven. As of Wednesday morning a price on the series itself had not yet been posted.
Detroit went 50-31 at home last year, while Boston went a respectable 45-36 on the road.
These two teams combined to go 164-138 on the over/unders last year.
Games played at Comerica Park last year averaged 9.5 runs, seventh-most among all Major League ballparks.
Red Sox vs. Tigers Series Predictions and Picks
All things considered, a price of -147 on Verlander isn’t bad, so I'll take the Tigers to win Thursday. And although series prices haven't yet been posted, I'll take Detroit to take this series, mainly because I've got questions about Boston's bullpen. And I like the overs on Saturday and Sunday's games.
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