Tigers at Blue Jays Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/3/2013
In a spring story on 2013 Cy Young props, I was really, really high on Detroit's Max Scherzer, who finished last season strong and has arguably the nastiest stuff in the Majors. As things stand now, Scherzer should be the American League starter in the All-Star Game – Tigers manager Jim Leyland will coach the AL – and he is the 7/4 Cy Young favorite at Bovada.
Boston's Clay Buchholz had been the early favorite and is now No. 2 with Texas' Yu Darvish at 4/1. Buchholz has been hurt by injuries, while Darvish has only won twice since mid-May despite pitching well in that stretch.
Scherzer (12-0, 3.10) is the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to open 12-0. Clemens won his first Cy Young award that year and added an MVP as well. The record for best undefeated start to season in the live ball era (since 1920) is 15-0 by Baltimore's Dave McNally in 1969 and Cleveland's Johnny Allen in 1937. Neither won the Cy Young Award.
Scherzer is the first pitcher ever to go undefeated in his first 16 starts of a season with at least 120 strikeouts (Scherzer has 131, 20 behind AL-leading Darvish). Obviously the Tigers are thrilled with how good Scherzer has been, but it might force his way out of Motown. The team looked into signing him to a long-term deal before this season but put it off. That will cost millions.
Scherzer will get a huge raise in arbitration after this season and without an extension will be a free agent after next season. You'd have to think he's worth at least Zack Greinke money, which is around $150 million over six years. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch isn't afraid to spend but I don't see how he can do that to Scherzer with Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder each on $150-million-plus deals. Pitcher Anibal Sanchez just got a five-year, $80 million deal this past offseason. In 2015, the Tigers have committed $44.8 million to Verlander and Sanchez alone. They also have to give Doug Fister a multiyear extension if they want to keep him. He's arbitration-eligible the next two years before potentially hitting free agency.
Wednesday's game at Toronto is the third of a four-game set. The Tigers then visit Cleveland for four before concluding the first half at home. The Jays brought a 12-game winning streak into last week but were slowed down by Tampa Bay and the Red Sox, losing a series at both. They would probably be happy just to be .500 at the break and go from there.
Tigers at Blue Jays Betting Story Lines
This will be Scherzer's first start of the season against Toronto and he is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 34 career innings against the Jays. Toronto slugger Jose Bautista is hitting .545 with a homer and three RBI in 11 at-bats off Scherzer, while Edwin Encarnacion is 5-for-15 with a homer. Scherzer has been noticeably better on the road this season with 2.08 ERA and opponents' batting average of just .149.
The Blue Jays counter with right-hander Josh Johnson (1-2, 5.21). It seemed like Johnson had finally figured things out as he started June with three strong starts. However, he has allowed nine runs and 15 hits over 9.1 innings in his past two starts. Johnson's worst start of the season came April 11 at Detroit's Comerica Park. He was bombed for six runs and seven hits in 1.1 innings, the shortest start of his career. That day was horrible, with 35-degree temperatures and rain. Fielder is hitting .417 with three RBI in 12 career at-bats off Johnson. He's had by far the most at-bats against him.
Bettors may want to consider a wager on Miguel Cabrera here. He's just 1-for-1 with an RBI and a walk in his career off Johnson. But there's something that seems to happen to Miggy when Scherzer is on the mound. According to ESPN, Cabrera is hitting .500 with eight homers and 21 RBI in the 16 starts Scherzer has made. In the last one, Friday at Tampa Bay, Cabrera was 4-for-4 with two homers. He has gone 4-for-4 with multiple homers three times already this year, the first modern play to do that as many teams in a season. Detroit also should have catcher Alex Avila in the lineup. He was to be activated off the 15-day DL for Tuesday's game.
Tigers at Blue Jays Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Tigers opened at -119 and the Jays at +109 with a total of 8.5. All trends entering Tuesday: Detroit is 44-36-1 over/under (19-20 on the road) and 37-44 on the runline. Toronto is 42-39-1 O/U (23-17 at home) and 45-37 on the runline.
Detroit is 4-10 in its past 14 Game 3s of a series. The Tigers are 6-2 in Scherzer's past eight Wednesday starts and 0-5 in their past five Wednesday games overall. The Tigers are 5-1 in Scherzer's past six road starts. Toronto is 5-0 in its past five Game 3s and 6-0 in its past six Wednesday games. The Jays are 8-3 in their past 11 against righty starters. The over is 5-2 in Scherzer's past seven starts against AL East teams. The under is 5-0 in Toronto's past five Wednesday games. The over is 4-0 in Johnson's past four Game 3 starts. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Tigers at Blue Jays Betting Prediction
Detroit is in a bit of a funk right now, losing six of eight entering today, and isn't a good road team. The Jays, meanwhile, have been very good at home of late. If both Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind are in Toronto's lineup I like the Jays here. Both are battling ailments – a hammy for Encarnacion and a back issue for Lind – and both sat out Monday. If those two sit, take the Tigers. I like the ‘under’ regardless.
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