MLB Odds and Predictions: World Series Game 1 and Series Props
by Alan Matthews - 10/23/2012
There really can’t be much argument that Detroit’s Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball (even though he won’t repeat as AL Cy Young winner). Yet it’s because of Verlander that the Tigers won’t have home-field advantage vs. San Francisco when the World Series begins Wednesday.
You see, Verlander started for the American League in the All-Star Game back in July (the Giants’ Matt Cain was the NL starter). He wanted to give the fans a show and wasn’t really worried about performance or pitch location. Here’s what Verlander said that night in Kansas City: "I know the fans don't want to see me throw 90 [mph] and hit the corners. They want to see the 100-mph fastball."
So Verlander obliged, throwing simply heat. He surpassed 97 mph with 26 of his 35 pitches and cracked the 100 barrier six times, according to ESPN. The National League lit him up for five runs, batting around in the first inning – Verlander was the first all-star pitcher to allow five in the first. The AL never recovered and lost 8-0 thanks also in part to All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera of the Giants. Cabrera was of course suspended later in the season and hasn’t played for San Francisco in the playoffs even though he was available after the NLDS.
At least Verlander can steal home-field advantage back by winning Game 1, but just remember that all-star night if there’s a winner-take-all Game 7 at AT&T Park.
Detroit is in its first World Series since 2006 and looking for its first title since the storied 1984 team. The Tigers destroyed the Yankees in the ALCS, not trailing once in the sweep and scoring more runs in Game 4 alone than New York did all series. Detroit only has faced elimination once this postseason, winning Game 5 of the ALDS at Oakland thanks to Verlander.
The Giants beat the Texas Rangers in five games in the 2010 World Series for the franchise’s first title since moving West. Incidentally, that was the year the NL ended a 13-year All-Star Game winless streak (one tie) and finally got World Series home-field advantage under the new rules. The Cardinals used that advantage last season in winning the final two games of their Fall Classic with Texas at home. San Francisco has won an incredible six straight elimination games this postseason, having fallen down 2-0 to the Reds in the NLDS and 3-1 to St. Louis in the NLCS.
Detroit and San Francisco last faced off in July 2011 in Interleague Play. The Giants won two of three at Comerica Park.
Tigers at Giants Game 1 Probable Starting Pitchers
Detroit RHP Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 regular season) vs. Giants LHP Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15): Verlander has been totally dominant in these playoffs, going 3-0 in three starts with a 0.74 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, .122 opponents’ batting average and 25 strikeouts with just five walks in 24.1 innings. During the regular season, his road ERA (3.57) was much higher than at home (1.65). He is on seven days’ rest and likely would start again in Game 5 in Comerica Park if necessary. Verlander has faced the Giants once, and it came in 2008, the season he tied for the major-league lead with 17 losses (and had career-worst numbers across the board). One of the guys he was tied with in losses: Oakland’s Barry Zito. Thus, few Giants have seen him. One who has is NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro, who is hitting .217 in 23 career at-bats vs. Verlander.
As for Zito, he was not good in his NLDS Game 4 start vs. the Reds, allowing two runs and walking four in 2.2 innings, but he escaped with a no-decision and the Giants would win the game. Zito did save the Giants’ bacon in Game 5 of the NLCS, blanking the Cards on six hits for 7.2 innings with six strikeouts. He became the fourth Giants pitcher not to allow a run with one or fewer walks in seven or more innings in the postseason since 1920. Zito did pitch in that series vs. the Tigers last year, shutting out Detroit over six innings in getting the victory. Miguel Cabrera has only had eight at-bats vs. Zito and is hitting .250 with no homers. Prince Fielder is hitting .167 with a homer and five RBI in 18 at-bats vs. the lefty.
Tigers at Giants Game 1 Betting Odds and Trends
On Sportsbook.ag, Detroit is -168 and San Francisco +153 with the total at 6.5. For the series, the Tigers are -185 favorites with the Giants at +155. Detroit was 31-44-6 “over/under” on road this season and 3-5-1 overall in these playoffs. The Giants were 36-41-4 O/U at home during season and 9-3 overall in playoffs.
The Tigers are 6-0 in their last six playoff games as a favorite. Detroit is 4-1 in its last five games vs. a left-handed starter. The Tigers are 2-5 in Verlander’s past seven starts with at least seven days of rest. The Giants are 8-0 in Zito’s past eight starts as an underdog. San Francisco is Giants 7-3 in its past 10 games vs. a right-handed starter.
Tigers at Giants Series Props
Verlander is the Sportsbook.ag World Series MVP favorite at +200, followed by Cabrera (+500) Giants catcher Buster Posey (+600) and Fielder (+800). Scutaro, who hit .500 in winning NLCS MVP honors and tied an LCS record with 14 hits, is +1200. Tigers DH Delmon Young was the ALCS MVP and is also +1200. Young will have to play left field in the San Francisco games with no DH.
The total games in series is 5.5, with the over a -240 favorite. Here’s a cool prop: Will there be a grand slam in the series? “No” is -800 and “yes” at +450. Will either team win three straight games in this series? No is -260 and yes +200.
Tigers at Giants Betting Predictions
I believe the Tigers once again have easily the best pitcher and best player in this series, as they did vs. Oakland and the Yankees. But, then again, it would tough to find an opponent in which that wouldn’t be the case. Frankly, I think Detroit has a better lineup and better starting staff. Bullpen and defense go to the Giants.
For Game 1, I am going with San Francisco because I believe the Tigers will be rusty and the Giants can carry over their momentum. For the series, I lean to Detroit in six. As for MVP, Verlander probably does win it if he wins his two starts, which is certainly possible. But Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson is having a solid postseason (.297, one homer, three RBI) and Jim Leyland might let him run a bit to manufacture offense, especially in the games where there is no DH. Jackson is good value at +1200.
I wouldn’t take the prop on a team winning three straight or the grand slam one, although the latter is very tempting. There have been just 18 grand slams in World Series history and not since the White Sox’s Paul Konerko in 2005. FYI: the record of the teams with a player hitting a grand slam home run in a World Series game is 16-2.
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