Free MLB Picks: Rays vs. Tigers Series Coverage

Darin Zank

Thursday, July 3, 2014 1:31 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 3, 2014 1:31 PM UTC

Tampa guaranteed itself at least a split of this four-game series with a 7-2 victory Saturday afternoon. Which way should we go for our free MLB pick on Sunday's series finale (8 pm ET, ESPN)?


6th July
Rays vs. Tigers Game 4

By: Ron Patrick


Sunday's Betting Line
In the early betting Tampa and David Price were favored by around -110 over Detroit and Rick Porcello, with a total of 7.5 runs.

Saturday Re-Hash
Tampa broke a 0-0 tie with three runs in the fifth and four in the sixth, on its way to a 7-2 victory. The Rays got a quality start from Chris Archer and three hits and three RBI from No. 9 hitter Kevin Kiermaier. 

Tampa won as a +115 underdog on Saturday's MLB betting board, and the game, to our disgust, played 'over' its total of 7.5 runs. In fact, the first three games in this series have all played 'over.'

Sunday's Starters
Porcello (11-4, 3.12) is off to the best start of his career. He's 11/16 on quality starts, including four in a row, and has thrown back-to-back shutouts. Last time out he held Oakland, the best offense in baseball, to four hits, and just before that he limited Texas to three hits. He'll enter Sunday's game with a 25-inning scoreless streak. 

On the season Porcello has allowed 96 hits in 107 innings, walked 24 and struck out 62. Detroit is 12-4 in Porcello's starts.

Porcello started once against the Rays last year, giving up three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 3-1 Tigers loss.

Price (7-7, 3.50) is 12/18 on quality starts, and working on a string of seven in a row. Last time out he held the Yankees to one run through seven innings, and over his last seven starts he's allowed 13 ER through 53 2/3 innings.

On the season Price has allowed 125 hits in 131 innings, while posting a ridiculous K/BB ratio of 153/17. Tampa is 10-8 in Price's starts.

This will be Price's first start against Detroit since June of 2012, when he held the Tigers to two runs through seven innings of a 4-2 Rays win.

Free Pick for Sunday
We got burned by taking the 'under' Saturday, but we'll jump right back on that horse and go with the 'under' 7.5 runs, at the -105 offered at Bookmaker, for Sunday's free MLB pick.


5th July
Rays vs. Tigers Game 3

By: Ron Patrick


Saturday's Betting Line
In early surfing we found Detroit and Anibal Sanchez at -137 at Pinnacle, while Tampa and Chris Archer were getting +135 at Bovada. And most books were listing the total on today's game at eight runs.

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Friday Re-Hash
Tampa scored once in the third, once in the fourth, once in the fifth, twice in the sixth and once in the seventh, then got some good work from its bullpen to secure a 6-3 victory. The Rays won +110 dogs on Friday's MLB betting line, and the game sneaked 'over' its total of eight runs. 

We backed Detroit with our free MLB pick for Friday mainly because we thought Tigers starter Drew Smyly would bounce back from a poor outing in his previous start. Instead, he gave up five runs in five-plus innings. So Detroit, a team that's 13 games over .500 overall, is now 4-10 in Smyly's starts this season.

In a personnel update Tigers slugger Victor Martinez (sore back), after returning to the lineup Thursday, left Friday's game and is very questionable for Saturday.

Saturday's Starters
Sanchez (5-2, 2.63), by our strict standards, is only 6/14 on quality starts this season, in part because he's come up short of six innings several times, and in part because we don't give credit for a QS when allowing three ER in less than seven innings. Most recently he held Oakland, the best offense in baseball, to two ER through seven innings, but while Detroit has won his last four starts, he's allowed 10 ER in his last 25 2/3 innings.

For the season Sanchez has allowed just 59 hits, just two homers, in 82 innings, walked 21 and struck out 66. The Tigers are 8-6 in games Sanchez has started.

Sanchez started once last year against the Rays, holding them to one run through seven innings, whiffing nine, in a 10-1 Detroit victory.

Archer (4-5, 3.24) is 9/17 on quality starts. Last Sunday he held the Yankees to two runs through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's allowed six ER through 20 2/3 innings.

On the season Archer has allowed 92 hits, just three of which have left the park, in 100 innings, while posting a 90/38 K/BB ratio. Tampa is 8-9 in Archer's starts.

In his one career start against Detroit, in June of last year, Archer gave up three runs in five innings of a 4-3 Rays victory.

Free Pick for Saturday
This is a tough one, because we've had good luck with both Archer and Sanchez in the recent past. So we'll eschew going with a side for our free MLB pick on Saturday's game, and instead go with the 'under' eight runs, at the -120 offered at Bookmaker. 


4th July
Rays vs. Tigers Game 2

By: Ron Patrick


Friday's Betting Line
In the early betting, Detroit and Drew Smyly could be found at -119 at Pinnacle, while Tampa and Alex Cobb could be found at +115 at BetOnline.

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Thursday Re-Hash
Detroit scored five runs in the first inning, bopping three homers, then got a quality eight innings from starter Max Scherzer on its way to an 8-1 victory, snapping Tampa's five-game winning streak. 

In his first game back in the lineup after missing some time with a sore back, Tigers slugger Victor Martinez hit a homer in his first at-bat. Detroit won as a -190 post-time favorite on Thursday's MLB betting board, and to our delight covered against the run line.

The Tigers are now a ML-best 18-8 against left-handed starters this season, after gouging Rays starter Erik Bedard for six runs in two innings.

Friday's Starters
Smyly (4-7, 3.57) is 7/13 on quality starts this season, and while he's coming off a poor outing in which he gave up four runs on eight hits in less than three innings against Houston, prior to that he had run off four QS in a row, allowing just four runs through his previous 25 innings. On the season Smyly has allowed 77 hits in 76 hits, walked 26 and struck out 65. But Detroit is just 4-9 in Smyly's starts, with the totals leaning toward the 'overs' 7-5. Smyly last faced Tampa back in 2012, when in two starts he gave up four runs in nine innings.

Cobb (3-6, 4.20) is 5/11 on quality starts, but 0 for his last two. Last time out he gave up three ER and eight hits in five innings against Baltimore, and just before that he gave up six runs in five innings against Pittsburgh. For the season Cobb has allowed 60 hits in 64 innings, walked 20 and struck out 56. Tampa is 4-7 in Cobb's starts, with the totals leaning 'under' 6-4. Cobb started once against the Tigers last year, throwing 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in a 3-0 Rays win.

Free Pick for Friday
In expecting a bounce-back effort from Smyly we'll go with Detroit, at the -119 offered at Pinnacle, for our free MLB pick on Friday's game.


3rd July
Rays vs. Tigers Game 1

By: Ron Patrick


Rays-Tigers Betting Odds
As of mid-Thursday morning the best price we could find for Game 1 of this series on Detroit with Max Scherzer was the -175 listed at You Wager, while Tampa and Erik Bedard could be found at +168 at BetOnline. Also, most books were listing the total on Thursday's game at eight runs.

Bigger-picture, Bookmaker was chalking Detroit at -175 to win this series (based on the first three games), with the Rays getting +150.

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Series Set-Up
Detroit just swept three games from AL West-leading Oakland, winning Wednesday 9-3. The Tigers have won three of their last four series and 11 of their last 13 games. At 47-34 Motor City's Kitties lead the AL Central by 4.5 games over second-place Kansas City.

The Rays have won at least 90 games four seasons in a row, but thanks in part to some key injuries in the starting rotation that run will come to an end this year. Tampa has shown some life lately, though, riding a five-game winning streak into Thursday.

The Rays just swept three games from the Yankees in the Bronx, winning Wednesday 6-3. So Tampa has won three of its last four series and 14 of its last 21 games. Still, at 38-49, the Rays sit in last place in the AL East, 9.5 games behind first-place Toronto.

This is the first meeting between these teams this season; last year these teams split six games, with four of those games playing 'under' the totals.

Throwing Thursday
Scherzer (9-3, 3.64) isn't having quite the season he did last year, but then again, that would be tough, considering he won the Cy Young award. He's 10/17 on quality starts this year, and two for his last two, after getting bombed by Kansas City two weeks ago. Last Saturday he held Houston to two runs through seven innings, whiffing 13, and just before that he held Cleveland to one run through six innings.

For the season Scherzer has allowed 107 hits in 111 innings, walked 32 and struck 132, third-most in the Majors. Detroit is 12-5 in Scherzer's starts, with the totals leaning toward the 'unders' 10-7.

Scherzer started twice against the Rays last year, allowing four runs and eight hits in 14 innings, striking out 18. The Tigers won both those games.

Bedard (4-5, 4.21) is only 4/14 on quality starts, in part because he's gone six full innings just four times. Last Saturday he gave up three runs in seven innings against Baltimore, but in his three starts previous to that he allowed 10 runs through 13 1/3 innings.

On the season Bedard has allowed 74 hits in 73 innings, while posting a 64/27 K/BB ratio. Tampa is 7-7 in Bedard's starts, with the totals leaning toward the 'overs' 8-5.

This will be Bedard's first start against Detroit since 2011, when he was with Seattle.

In the comparison of the bullpens for this series Tampa ranks 21st in ERA at 3.82, going 17/26 on save opportunities, while Detroit ranks 29th with a 4.63 ERA while going 22/30 on save opps.

With the Sticks
Tampa ranks ninth in team OBP at .322, 17th in team slugging at .381 but only 25th in scoring at 3.8 runs per game.

Detroit ranks fourth in OBP at .330, second in slugging at .440 and fifth in scoring at 4.7 RPG.

Rays-Tigers Betting Trends
The totals have leaned toward the 'overs' by a 21-17 margin in games played at Comerica this season.

But twenty of the last 28 meetings in this series have stayed 'under' the totals.

Injury Update
Detroit slugger Victor Martinez (.384 OBP, 20 HR) has missed the last three games with a sore back, and his status for this series is uncertain.

Free Pick for Thursday
It's hard not to lean toward Scherzer and Detroit, but that price is a bit too much. So since we like to gamble we'll go with the Tigers on the run line, getting +116 at Pinnacle, for our free MLB pick on Thursday's game.

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