Red Sox at Tigers Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/22/2013
If you had told fans of the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers that their teams would lead the AL East and AL Central, respectively, at this point of the season, obviously those fans would be happy. However, it appears both have one major flaw in common: at closer.
In Thursday's series opener between these two, Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey gave up a two-run, walk-off homer to Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta as the Tigers won, 4-3. This came just a few days after Sox GM Ben Cherington gave Bailey a vote of confidence. When will people learn that votes of confidence only make things worse and stoke the media? In Bailey’s last five appearances, he has allowed seven earned runs thanks to four homers and five walks. Bailey has blown three saves in that stretch and has a 9.00 ERA in June.
Sox manager John Farrell all but said there would be a change. Former closer Joel Hanrahan is out for the season after season-ending surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right arm. Thus, Farrell may turn to big lefty Andrew Miller, who used to be a top starting pitching prospect for the Tigers but never lived up to expectations. He was used fully in relief last year for Boston and was solid. This year, Miller has a 2.77 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 26 innings entering Friday (all stats in story entering Friday). Right-handers can't solve Miller as they are 7-for-47 against him. However, Miller has as many big-league saves in his career as I do.
The Tigers, meanwhile, knew closer was going to be a problem entering the season but were hoping rookie fireballer Bruce Rondon would be the answer and earn the job in spring. He didn't. So the Tigers brought back Jose Valverde over the wailings of the fan base after Valverde was a gas can late last season. He was pretty good for a while this year but has since been torched and lost the job. And Valverde seems to be worse in non-save situations as shown by the four runs and five hits he allowed in an inning against Baltimore on Wednesday. His time in the majors could be ending. It looks like Joaquin Benoit is the guy for now. He has always been a terrific set-up man but never a full-time closer. I absolutely expect the Tigers to deal for a closer before the July 31 deadline. One name mentioned has been former Red Sox Jonathan Papelbon, now with the Phillies.
Red Sox at Tigers Betting Story Lines
The bullpen isn't the only problem right now for Boston as the rotation suddenly is in question. Jon Lester, who started Friday's game, has been slumping in a big way. Clay Buchholz was set to start this one but is back on the disabled list with a strained trapezius muscle in his neck. Buchholz threw a bullpen session before Tuesday's game but didn't show enough progress to start this game. Buchholz is a top Cy Young candidate at 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. He must stay healthy for the Sox to have any chance to win the AL East. A bullpen session before Saturday's game will determine if Buchholz can return Tuesday. I expect the Sox to be looking for pitching before the deadline as well. The Cubs' Matt Garza would be a good option as he knows the division well from his Rays days.
So, Boston has to turn to Allen Webster for Saturday's game. The righty was 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA in Triple-A but is 0-1 with an 11.74 ERA in 7.2 innings in two big-league starts this year. The 23-year-old allowed eight runs in 1.2 innings on May 8 against Minnesota in his last MLB start. He has never faced Detroit.
The Tigers start arguably the best pitcher in the American League right now, flame-throwing Max Scherzer (10-0, 3.08). This sounds like blasphemy, but Scherzer, and not Justin Verlander, is the best pitcher on the team right now. Scherzer is the first Tigers starter to begin a season 10-0 since 1909. In his last start, Scherzer had 10 fastballs at 96 mph or higher. He has five double-digit strikeout games this season and has had at least six punchouts in all 14 starts. The only other AL pitcher ever with at least six strikeouts in the first 14 starts of a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez from 1999-2001. Martinez did it a whopping 29 straight starts in 2000. I think Scherzer is the Cy Young favorite right now, just ahead of Buchholz and Yu Darvish.
However, Scherzer has problems with Boston as he has a career 1-3 mark with a 9.21 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 28 innings. He's not the same pitcher as when Boston saw him last, when Scherzer allowed five runs and seven hits in 6.1 innings on July 30 last year at Fenway. Scherzer has one loss since (Detroit has lost five more times but Scherzer didn't take the L). David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have had success against him. Big Papi is 6-for-10 with two homers and five RBI, while Pedroia is 3-for-10 with two homers and five RBI as well. Jacoby Ellsbury is 3-for-6 with a dinger.
Red Sox at Tigers MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Tigers opened at -192 and the Red Sox at +182 with a total of 9. All trends entering Friday: Boston is 36-35-4 “over/under” (17-18-2 on road) and 38-37 on the runline. Detroit is 37-33-1 O/U (20-15-1 at home) and 34-37 on the runline.
The Red Sox are 5-1 in the past six Game 3s of a series as well as in Saturday games. The Tigers are 6-1 in Scherzer's past seven starts against teams with a winning record. The under is 8-0-1 in Boston's past nine overall and against right-handed starters. The under is 9-2 in Detroit's past 11 overall. It is 5-1 in Scherzer's past six starts. The over is 5-0-1 in Scherzer's past six against Boston.
Red Sox at Tigers Picks and Betting Predictions
I can't possibly recommend Boston to win here with how good Scherzer has been. However, maybe the Sox do have his number. Some stud pitchers just seem to struggle against certain teams. And considering Detroit hasn't seen Webster, maybe he can keep it close through 5-6 innings. Thus, while I recommend the Tigers and the under, I'd go Boston on the runline.
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