Braves at Tigers Predictions and MLB Series Picks
by Robert Ferringo - 4/24/2013
Season-long Interleague Play is new to Major League Baseball, and to this point the series have mostly been duds. As excited as I get for the Marlins-Twins and White Sox-Nationals series, there hasn’t been much buzz to these one-time novelty items.
But this weekend the most intriguing three-game set on the slate features two clubs from opposing leagues and will be billed by some bobblehead media members as a “potential World Series preview”.
The Atlanta Braves (15-6) head to Motown to take on the Detroit Tigers (10-10) in a series featuring two of the preseason favorites to win their respective leagues. Atlanta currently has the best record in baseball, while the Tigers are the defending American League champions.
Detroit has been slow out of the gate this season, treading water in third place in a feeble A.L. Central. Thursday’s loss to Kansas City made it five of six defeats for Detroit, and they are looking for a kick-start to their season.
(For those keeping score at home, I put the “over/under” on the amount of time it takes Chip Caray to make the “World Series” proclamation at about 15.2 seconds.)
Here is a deeper look at this week’s best baseball series, including a free MLB series prediction at the bottom:
Braves at Tigers Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: Atlanta LHP Paul Maholm (3-1, 1.03 ERA) vs. Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 1.75 ERA)
Both teams have been excellent at striking first in a series, with the Braves going 7-0 in the first game of their last seven series while Detroit is 11-4 in their last 15. The Tigers have been decent at home against lefties, going 18-7, and they are No. 6 in the Majors against southpaws. Sanchez used to pitch for the Marlins, so he has a lot of experience going up against the Braves. Unfortunately for him, most of those experiences were negative as Sanchez is 4-11 with a 5.42 ERA in 17 career starts versus Atlanta.
Saturday: Atlanta RHP Kris Medlen (1-2, 2.16 ERA) vs. Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (0-2, 11.08 ERA)
This is a matchup of All Stuff vs. No Stuff. Medlen has a wide variety of pitches in his arsenal and everything he throws has movement. Porcello basically throws flat and straight and lets overzealous batters get themselves out. Atlanta is just 2-2 in Medlen’s starts this year, but he has given up three runs or less in all four of them. The Braves are 13-3 in his last 16 starts, and I expect him to be in full effect. Porcello won a rotation slot with a great Spring Training but has been terrible in live games. He didn’t make it out of the first inning in his start last Saturday against the Angels, giving up nine runs while recording just two outs.
Sunday: Atlanta LHP Mike Minor (3-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. Detroit RHP Doug Fister (3-0, 2.00 ERA)
The Braves will throw their second lefty at the Tigers on Sunday. Minor has been a revelation for Atlanta this season and allowed just two earned runs in his first 19 innings of work in 2013. In fact, Minor has given up more than three runs just one time in his last 19 starts. Fister is following up his excellent close to 2012 with a solid start to the season. The Tigers have won three of his four starts and are 11-5 in his last 16 trips to the bump. Atlanta’s main weapon has been the long ball, but Fister has allowed just nine dingers in his last 28 starts.
Braves at Tigers MLB Betting Odds and Trends
Several online sportsbooks have the series price at Atlanta +115 and Detroit -135. Those odds nearly mirror those in Game 1, with Atlanta as a +120 underdog and Detroit as a -130 favorite. The total is set at 7.5. Friday’s odds are from Harrah’s.
The Braves are 35-16 in their last 51 games overall, and they are a sparkling 17-5 in their last 22 games following a day off. Atlanta has been excellent against teams with a winning record, going 14-5, and they are 20-8 in their last 28 road games against teams that win 60 percent or more of their games. Atlanta is also 10-4 in its last 14 road games.
Detroit has been dominant in Motown, going 42-15 in its last 57 home games. The Tigers are 16-7 in their last 23 games against teams from the National League East, and Detroit is an outstanding 48-18 in their last 66 Interleague home games. The Tigers have lost four of five overall, but they should be ready for this series.
Braves at Tigers Predictions and Betting Picks
I actually kind of like Detroit to win this series. They are dynamite at home, and they have proven that they are much better against left-handed starters than righties. I know that Maholm and Minor are off to brilliant starts. But those are still two C+/B- southpaws and they are due for a dose of reality. A big part of Atlanta’s hot start has had to do with their easy schedule. That’s the one thing that no one has talked about with this team. Also, the Braves are wrapping up a 10-game road trip, and by Sunday I expect them to be looking forward to a trip home and a Monday night date with rival Washington. The general betting public repeatedly overvalues Detroit. But in this marquee series, I think that they are worth the look to defend their own turf. The Tigers were gangbusters in their first big-time home series, the home opener against the Yankees, and the Tigers always seem to earn two of three against top-tier teams that come to Motown.
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