Back Tigers As Your Underdog MLB Pick When Visiting Nationals

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 1:35 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 10, 2016 1:35 PM UTC

The Washington Nationals may already have 20 wins this season, but they seem overvalued laying this big price with Joe Ross on the mound, making the Detroit Tigers the MLB pick.

One of the better teams in baseball still seems overvalued Tuesday night in interleague actions when Michael Fulmer and the Detroit Tigers (14-17, 9-8 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Joe Ross and the potentially overpriced Washington Nationals (20-12, 9-4 home) in the middle game of a three-game series from Nationals Park in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET in a game available on MASN.

The posted money line at BetOnline has Detroit as a large road underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +151.


Fourth Best Record in Baseball
Not unlike preseason forecasts, the Nationals have now been surpassed by the New York Mets for first place in the National League East, but Washington remains just one-half game back while still owning the fourth best record in all of baseball at 20-12. The Nationals kept pace with New York by rallying for a 5-4 victory in the series opener here last night, taking starter Stephen Strasburg off the hook for the loss thanks to a walk-off homer by Clint Robison.

The slumping Tigers meanwhile fell to three games below .500 at 14-17 with the loss, as they have now been the losing MLB picks in seven games in a row. That already has them eight games out of first place while fourth in the American League Central, as the Chicago White Sox have a bloated six-game lead over second place Cleveland in that division with a 23-10 record that is the second best in baseball behind only their cross-town rival Cubs.


Has Ross Done Enough?
With all of that being said, has the youngster Ross done enough to merit this much favoritism? That is not to suggest that Ross will not be a good Major League pitcher as the 22-year-old is still 3-1 with a sparkling 1.23 ERA and 0.99 WHIP through the early going even after taking his first loss vs. the Cubs in Chicago last time out despite recording another Quality Start allowing two runs on five hits in 6.2 innings.

However, Ross still has limited Major League experience and that last outing could mark the beginning of some regression after entering that start with a 0.79 ERA, especially since his current xFIP stands at just 3.90, or 2.67 runs higher than his current ERA! That is never a good sign, nor is that fact that his strikeout rate this year of 7.06 per nine innings is down from the 8.10 he averaged as a rookie last year and he has also benefitted from allowing a .250 BABIP.

That BABIP should begin to stabilize and he is facing a Detroit lineup that can still hit, especially vs. right-handed pitchers against whom the Tigers are batting a solid .266 while averaging 4.51 runs per nine innings this season.


One Good, One Bad
Fulmer was recalled on April 29th and has made two starts in the Major Leagues so far, one good and one bad. First he held the Minnesota Twins to two runs in five innings with four strikeouts vs. one walk before getting pulled after 93 pitches in his debut, but then he was roughed up by the Cleveland Indians for five earned runs on 10 hits in five innings last Thursday, although he did have six more strikeouts vs. two walks.

The Tigers were in need of improved starting pitching coming into this season, and they are hoping Fulmer can live up to his potential. He has certainly made a quick ascent as he led all of Double-A in ERA while also ranking second in FIP last season, and he was averaging an impressive 11.74 strikeouts per nine innings at Triple-A at the time he was called up. And the fact that he is averaging one strikeout per inning in two Major League starts also bodes well.

Yes it is a small sampling of nine innings, but Fulmer is also surrendering a ridiculous .455 BABIP so far that will certainly not continue, so we actually expect him to have success his first time through the league with that last start notwithstanding. After all, he did come up though an organization that knows how to develop young pitching talent in the New York Mets before coming over in the trade for Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of last season.


Trending the Road Underdogs
Finally, the Tigers apparently enjoy this interleague stuff as they are 4-1 in their last five interleague road games, as well as 10-4 in their last 14 games vs. the National League East. Meanwhile the Nationals have hit a bit of a road-bump, going 1-4 in their last five games overall, all vs. right-handed pitching.

Look for those trends to continue for one more game in this battle of youngsters, as we like Fulmer’s potential and do not think Ross has done enough yet to deserve this much favoritism, so back Detroit at a generous underdog price to snap its seven-game losing streak at Washington on Tuesday.

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Free MLB Pick: Tigers +198
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
MLB Record: 16-19-1, -0.33

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