Tigers History Makes Them The MLB Pick vs. Royals

Royals vs. Tigers MLB Odds

Friday, July 15, 2016 1:54 PM GMT

They have nearly identical records heading into the second half of the season, but the Detroit Tigers have been a stronger baseball pick than the Kansas City Royals.

It's amazing what lowered expectations can do for your bottom line. The Detroit Tigers made the playoffs four years in a row, getting all the way to the World Series in 2012, but they wound up in the AL Central basement last year at 74-87 (–10.30 units). Cue the comeback: Detroit is 46-43 heading out of the All-Star break, good enough for 7.07 units in profit.

Then again, the Kansas City Royals (45-43, +3.74 units) won the World Series last year, and they're still in the black despite sitting just two games above .500. Small market is as small market does, I suppose. Kansas City will face the Tigers this Friday (7:10 p.m. ET) in the first of three at Comerica Park, with Detroit laying –147 on the MLB odds board at press time.

Verlander No. 2
Is it safe to bet on Justin Verlander (3.87 FIP) yet? It's been five years since he was named MVP of the American League, and three years since he played in the All-Star Game. Verlander isn't the same pitcher anymore, but he's still pretty good, and thanks to those lowered expectations, he's up 1.03 betting units this year on a team record of 10-8.

That's a shade behind Royals starter Ian Kennedy (5.05 FIP), though. He's made 1.14 units for K.C. supporters on a record of 9-8. But the Royals have lost five of his last seven starts, and those “peripheral” stats we're always quoting look rather ugly: Kennedy has a .259 BABIP with 83.9 percent of runners left on base. Those runs were going to cross the plate at some point.

To make matters a bit worse, closer Wade Davis (2.70 FIP) isn't due back from his strained forearm until Saturday's game. Davis has been out of commission since the end of June; Kansas City is 3-7 in his absence. Maybe the books got this one right. FiveThirtyEight projects Detroit to win 59 percent of the time, which works out to –144 on our SBR Betting Odds Converter.

Fantasy Corner
The Tigers also have a history of lighting Kennedy up. Current hitters have a combined .862 OPS off the California native, but most of those bats have been snapped up in ESPN leagues. So let's switch gears and recommend Kansas City DH Kendrys Morales (.776 OPS), if you have room for a DH in your lineup. He's 12-of-37 lifetime against Verlander with a .919 OPS, and he's only owned in 55.4 percent of ESPN leagues, so you might be able to pick him up.

We could bail on the moneyline and put Friday's total in our MLB picks. However, that over/under of 8.5 runs doesn't do much for us. We'll keep it simple and take the Tigers at the lowest price on the board, but only for a small wager. These odds are just too tight.

Free MLB Pick: Tigers –145
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
Record: 16-15 ML, 5-3-1 Totals (+3.54 units)

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