Tigers at Nationals Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/8/2013
The oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag agree that the Detroit Tigers are the World Series favorites, currently at +600. What they don't agree on is which possible opponent for the Tigers is the most likely. Currently Tigers-Braves, Tigers-Giants and Tigers-Nationals are all +1800. Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington are all at +1000 to win the World Series as well.
The Nats were NL favorites entering the season but fell back for a bit behind Atlanta after the Braves started on fire and Washington struggled. But entering Tuesday's series opener against Detroit, the Nationals are now just 2.5 games behind Atlanta in the NL East and have won four of five after briefly falling below .500.
The Tigers have won four straight (albeit it against Houston) and nine of 10 entering Tuesday's opener. Detroit's home sweep of Atlanta from April 26-28 was very impressive. The Tigers have only lost two series this season, both on the road.
This is the first series between the Tigers and Nationals since 2010. That was back when Washington was one of the worst teams in baseball. It was pre-Bryce Harper, and Stephen Strasburg pitched just 12 games as a rookie that year. It's Detroit's first trip to the nation's capital since 2007 when it swept three games at RFK Stadium. The Nats haven't beaten the Tigers since their Expos days.
Tigers at Nationals Betting Story Lines
How crazy good is Miguel Cabrera right now? Good enough to win a second straight Triple Crown? I'd say absolutely, but Cabrera isn't hitting many homers yet with only six. But he leads the majors with a .385 average and 36 RBI. He's only the third Tiger with at least 45 hits and 35 RBI in the season's first 30 games since Hall of Famers Harry Heilmann in 1921 and Ty Cobb in 1925. Cabrera is on pace for almost 195 RBI, which would be a major-league record. That's not going to happen, but I could see him becoming the first player since Sammy Sosa in 2001 to finish with 160. Cabrera is hitting an absurd .535 with runners in scoring position. Detroit ranks No. 2 in MLB in runs and average. That offense could be even better if Victor Martinez (.220, 1 HR, 14 RBI) has finally awoken. He homered and drove in five in the four-game sweep of Houston after hitting just one homer and driving in nine during his previous 25 games this season.
Harper is having an MVP-caliber season, hitting .312 with nine homers and 18 RBI, all team bests. He is slumping now, hitting just .105 with no homers or RBI in the past seven days entering Tuesday. Fellow outfielder Jayson Werth missed three straight games over the weekend with a strained hamstring but was hoping to return Tuesday night. If not, he's probably going to sit until Friday. Washington has struggled offensively this year, ranking No. 27 in runs and 28th in average and on-base percentage.
The Tigers start red-hot Doug Fister (4-0, 2.48) on Wednesday night. He has had five straight quality starts, although he got a no-decision over the weekend against Houston. Fister hasn't allowed a home run since his first start of the year and has a 1.80 road ERA. Most Nationals haven't seen him, but former Twins outfielder Denard Span is hitting .350 off Fister in 20 at-bats.
The Nats go with Dan Haren (3-3, 5.01). The free-agent acquisition started slowly in his return to the National League, but Haren has allowed three runs or fewer in his last five starts with a 1.92 ERA in his last two, both wins. He faced the Tigers once last year as a member of the Angels, allowing two runs and eight hits in 5.2 innings. Cabrera is hitting .188 with a homer in 16 at-bats against him. Martinez is batting .360 with a homer. However, he will only be available as a pinch-hitter in this series as Manager Jim Leyland will sit Martinez without the designated hitter available.
Tigers at Nationals MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Detroit opened at -112 and Washington +102 with the total at 7.5. All trends entering Tuesday: The Tigers are 19-10-1 “over/under” (9-7 on road) and 17-13 on the runline. The Nats are 16-14-2 O/U (6-8-2 at home) and 14-18 on the runline.
The Tigers are 4-0 in their past four against right-handed starters. They are 7-2 in Fister's past nine starts in Game 2 of a series. Detroit has won five of Fister's past seven starts against teams with a winning record. The Nationals are 5-0 in their past five interleague home games. Washington has won 15 of its past 22 Game 2s of a series. The Nats are 0-5 in their past five home games vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-1 in the Tigers' past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-1-1 in Fister's past eight starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in Washington's past five Wednesday games. The under is 7-3 in the Nats' past 10 against right-handed starters.
Tigers at Nationals Picks and Betting Predictions
You will very rarely get Washington as a home dog, so I have to jump on the Nationals here purely on value. I'm sure the Nats will get up for this mini-series. Plus, interleague games in NL parks are usually a huge advantage for the home team because they are used to not playing without a designated hitter. AL teams are built very differently (plus, you know their pitchers are going to strikeout at bat). Also take the under.
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