Baseball Predictions: Tigers at Twins Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/23/2013
19-9, 3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 269 strikeouts. 18-9, 3.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 219 strikeouts. 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 250 strikeouts. 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 239 strikeouts.
Those are Justin Verlander's previous four seasons and why he became the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, at least until the Dodgers give Clayton Kershaw some $200 million-plus. Unfortunately, it sure seems like all those innings and pitches have caught up to Verlander (13-12, 3.66, 1.33 WHIP, 195 strikeouts). He has had 45 games with at least 120 pitches since 2009, nearly three times as many as the next closest pitcher in the majors. I bring this up because Verlander starts Monday night in Minnesota, and he's probably only the third-best pitcher on the Tigers right now behind Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. Do the Tigers start him in Game 1 of the ALDS on reputation or go with the guys who have been better? Stay tuned. Detroit still has an outside shot at catching Boston for the AL's best record, but it's looking like a Tigers-A's ALDS -- home field between those two is very much up for grabs in the season's final week.
Tigers at Twins Betting Story Lines
One idiotic MLB Network analyst suggested that Verlander should pitch out of the bullpen in the playoffs. That's obvious stupidity and just a reason to draw attention to one's self. But whether Verlander pitches at home or on the road in the ALDS doesn't appear to matter. He's 6-7 with a 3.73 ERA at home and 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA on the road. He wasn't terrible last time out, allowing three runs in seven innings in a loss to Seattle. The Tigers, though, have lost seven of his past eight starts. I've said it before and will again: NEVER pay pitchers big money. The Dodgers may get greatness out of Kershaw for a few more years, but the human body isn't meant to throw a baseball at 95 mph-plus, much less the torque on sliders and curveballs.
Arguably, Verlander's worst start of the season was on Aug. 22 at home against these Twins as he allowed six runs and 10 hits in seven innings of a 7-6 loss. Despite that bad outing -- a no-decision -- Verlander is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts against the Twins this year. Minnesota catcher Ryan Doumit is 2-for-6 with a homer and three RBI off Verlander this year, the only Twin to have gone yard. The Twins remain without their best player, Joe Mauer. He has a concussion, and that type of injury essentially ruined since-traded Justin Morneau's career, so don't expect to see Mauer the rest of the season. Speaking of contract mistakes, that was a big one. Mauer's a good player, but not at $184 million -- he'll be a full-time first baseman with no power soon.
This begins a season-ending seven-game homestand for the Twins and likely the third straight year the team doesn't reach 70 wins. Many believe it will be the end for Ron Gardenhire as Twins manager, although he'd likely have no trouble getting another job. Might be time for a new voice in the dugout, and Gardenhire's contract expires after this season. He led the Twins to the postseason six times in his first nine seasons.
The Twins start former Met Mike Pelfrey (5-13, 5.34), one of the AL's worst pitchers this season. He was lost early in 2012 to Tommy John surgery and obviously has struggled this year. He allowed three runs and nine hits in 4.1 innings last time out against the White Sox. The Twins have lost five straight of his starts. Pelfrey is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts against the Tigers in 2013. Prince Fielder has two homers and six RBI off him this year. Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-9 with an RBI. He might miss this game as he sat out Sunday with a groin injury. Obviously, the Tigers' priority is to get him as close to 100 percent as possible for the playoffs, home-field advantage or not. Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias could miss most of the final week with a hand injury. It will be interesting to see what the Tigers do with Jhonny Peralta when he's eligible to come off suspension in the playoffs. Iglesias is a vastly superior defensive shortstop, maybe the best in baseball, so the team could use Peralta in the outfield even though he has never played an inning there.
Tigers at Twins MLB Betting Odds and Trends
Sportsbook.ag has opened the Tigers at -190 with the Twins getting +165 and the total at 8. All trends entering Sunday: Detroit is 80-69-6 “over/under” (36-38-1 on road) and 76-79 on the runline. Minnesota is 67-82-5 O/U (35-39 at home) and 81-73 on the runline.
The Tigers are 7-1 in their past eight road games against righty starters. They are 13-3 in Verlander's past 16 Monday starts. Detroit is 1-4 in his past five road starts. Minnesota is 0-7 in its past seven against righty starters. It is 2-7 in Pelfrey's past nine against teams with a winning record. The over is 7-0 in Verlander's past seven against teams with a losing record. The under is 5-1-1 in Pelfrey's past seven against teams with a winning record. Detroit is 5-0 in Verlander's past five road starts against Minnesota. Detroit has won 10 of its past 11 in Minnesota.
Baseball Predictions: Tigers at Twins Betting Picks
Detroit leads the season series 9-7. I can't really recommend the Twins, but I'd definitely take them on the runline as I'm not sure Verlander is right. I also don't see him throwing a ton of innings here.
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