White Sox vs. Tigers: Strong Pitching Makes 'Under' Our MLB Pick

Sunday, June 5, 2016 11:08 AM GMT

Our expert MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, analyzes the pitching matchup in this AL Central clash on Sunday and finds value in the total for the best MLB Pick on the game.

2016 YTD MLB: 21-11-1, +8.69 Units

White Sox vs. Tigers
The Chicago White Sox are making moves and apparently ready to go all in on the 2016 season as they've acquired James Shields from the San Diego Padres. I fully expected Shields' awful outing against the Mariners last week to delay any deal for the starting pitcher, so this is a little bit surprising to me. Still, the White Sox see a window to to take the AL Central, as they are only 2 games back of the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night and are going for it.

The first team to make a major move this season continues their road trip against AL Central foe Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon. For their part though, the Tigers bring Justin Verlander to the table though and are thusly favored at -129 on the moneyline at sportsbooks such as Pinnacle. The O/U total is varied across the board and can be found at both 7.5 run and 8 runs, while the books hanging an 8 are shaded toward the Under at time of writing.

Game Analysis
Although Justin Verlander is only sporting a 4-5 record for the Tigers this year, all indications are that he is pitching just as effectively as he has since 2013. On the season, Verlander has put up a 4.11 ERA, 77/22 K/BB rate, 1.09 WHIP, .213 BAA, and 3.43 fielding independent ERA. That FIP number is the best since 2013 and shows that any increase in ERA for Verlander this year is not the result of his pitching performance.

Verlander has a long history against the Chicago White Sox… and has over a season's worth of pitching against that team in the books. Over 248.2 innings pitched, Verlander has put up a 3.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .248 BAA, and 18-13 record against the pale hose. There are few bright spots on the White Sox roster that has success off of him too, one being Jose Abreu who is batting .381 with 2 HR's in 21 AB's against Verlander. Abreu has had a rough go of it this season so far, batting just .247 on the year so I don't know if he should be considered a top threat to the White Sox starter in this game.

Starting for the White Sox is their second best pitcher behind Chris Sale, Jose Quintana. Quintana has put up a 5-5 record, 2.13 ERA, 67/14 K/BB rate, 1.03 WHIP, and .226 batting average against on the season. In fact, it can be said that Jose Quintana is an undisputed ace in the major leagues at this point. Over the last year of games, Quintana has the 5th best accrued WAR of any pitcher on the planet, behind just Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Chris Sale, David Price, and Dallas Keuchel. All of a sudden, that trade that the White Sox has made for James Shields makes a bit more sense. They aren't looking for the best pitcher in the world, they just need a back of the rotation innings-eater to back up Sale and Quintana down the stretch.

Betting Pick
If this game was in Chicago, I would have some qualms about making this pick as the Chicago weather can make even the best pitchers look tame against a batter's tailwind. But this game is in spacious Comerica Park, and this looks like a nice pitcher's duel to me with an early Sunday start to boot. I'm shopping around and taking under 8 runs -135 for my MLB Pick.

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MLB Pick: Under 8 (-135)
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