Late Pitcher Replacement Calls For 'Over" MLB Pick in Tiger-Blue Jays

Willie Bee

Thursday, July 7, 2016 12:08 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 7, 2016 12:08 PM UTC

A couple of 2nd-place teams begin a long weekend set in Toronto on Thursday, and we're taking a look at the battle between the Blue Jays and Tigers with a free MLB pick.

Detroit Tigers vs Toronto Blue Jays

A 4-day break awaits all but about 68 big leaguers next week when MLB throws its midseason gala otherwise known as the All-Star Game. Making a big push into the vacation is on every team's mind, especially a pair of second place clubs like the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays who open a crucial 4-game series north of the border tonight.

First pitch in Toronto comes at 7:07 PM (ET), and it will be delivered by Drew Hutchison who is a late replacement in the Blue Jays rotation due to Marco Estrada heading to the DL just a day after being named to the American League All-Star team. Justin Verlander is up next in the Detroit rotation, and the updated MLB odds have Hutchison and the Jays very small favorites around -110. An early 9 run total has inched up to 9½ at BetOnline pricing the 'under' at -115.

Both sides enter the series off Wednesday victories, Toronto winning its 5th-straight on this homestand by sweeping the Royals. The Blue Jays sit just 2½ out of the AL East lead behind Baltimore with Boston hot on their tails a half-game back in third. Detroit is on a long road trip and avoided being swept by the Indians in Cleveland with a decisive 12-2 decision that left the Tigers 6½ behind the Tribe in the AL Central.



Can Hutchison Stick In Bigs This Time?
Save for one really ugly appearance against Cleveland, Verlander has been a good bet since mid-May. The Tigers have sent baseball bettors back to the pay window in seven of his last nine starts, and if you take away his two assignments vs. the Indians this year, Verlander's 3.17 ERA is almost All-Star Game worthy.

Hutchison has spent most of the season at Triple-A Buffalo where he posted some fine numbers like a 2.78 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 15 starts (87.1 IP). But the 25-year old has always looked strong in the minors only to not be able to translate that success to the major league level. He could get a chance to prove himself the next few months with the Blue Jays looking to trim some of the workload from Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.

Neither Verlander nor Hutchison saw any action when the clubs met in Detroit about a month ago.  Hutchison has seen the Tigers three times before, splitting his two decisions and enjoying one very good outing plus one very bad outing against the Detroit lineup a year ago.

Verlander is facing the Blue Jays for the 11th time, posting a 3-4 record with a 4.89 ERA that includes one of his worst outings over the years along with a no-hitter, both taking place in Toronto. The Jays haven't scored a run off him in this building in nearly six years, his 2011 no-no part of that whitewashing, and we should see Justin Smoak in John Gibbons' lineup this evening since the lefty-swinging hitter is 5-for-15 lifetime vs. Verlander with three jacks.


Jays Have Been Rude Hosts To Tigers
The Tigers took two of three when the squads got together early-June in Motown, totals of 9-9½ splitting 1-1-1 O/U/P on the baseball betting boards those days. When in Toronto, the rivalry has pretty much belonged to the Blue Jays who have won 5-straight on this field and hold an 80-47 all-time advantage since the Sky Dome opened its doors and roof in 1989. Three of the last four played here went past the totals.

With a retractable roof at Rogers Centre, we're not really concerned about the weather. It does appear the top will be off this evening, however, with clear skies, about an 80º reading on the thermometer and 8-10 mph NW breeze (in from left). My gut is telling me to back the hitters with my free MLB pick in this series opener.


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Free MLB Pick: Over 9½ (+100)   
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage
Season: 37-28 (+10.35)

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