MLB betting cappers will be putting a lot of focus on the Tigers' starting pitcher, pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark against a Cincinnati team that's been struggling at the plate this season.
The Detroit Tigers Can Win Because...
They are going up against a team that has had a really hard time scoring runs this season. The Reds have a lot of slumping hitters. On Wednesday night, five of their starting hitters hit .238 or worse, and four of them were regular position players while the fifth was pitcher Johnny Cueto. The four position players? Jay Bruce entered hitting just under .220. Chris Dominguez was hitting at .232 to start the game on Wednesday. Eugenio Suarez? Just a .158 batting average. Billy Hamilton? A paltry .221 average at the start of play on Wednesday. The Reds have too many holes in their batting order, so even though Detroit starter Justin Verlander is making only his second start of the season due to injuries that kept him out of the rotation through April and May, he might find a lineup that can enable him to succeed. Without Joey Votto -- who did not start in Wednesday night's game -- the Reds have few proven options on offense.
The other big reason the Tigers have a good chance to win this game is that Cincinnati starter Mike Leake does not inspire much confidence right now. Leake has a 4.35 ERA, and he's not really outfoxing major league hitters at the moment. He's given up at least three runs in five of his last six starts, pitching beyond the sixth inning in only one start and beyond the fifth inning in only two of them. He's given up at least seven hits in four of his last six starts. He's not getting hitters to swing and miss very often, either. He has struck out more than four hitters in only one of his last nine starts. This is just not a recipe for victory, especially since he pitches in The Great American Ballpark, which is a hitter's park due to the small dimensions and the fact that the ball jumps in a Cincinnati summer (or late spring).
The Cincinnati Reds Can Win Because...
They are facing a pitcher who just doesn't know what to expect from himself. Justin Verlander has very high standards. The former Cy Young Award winner used to be one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the game. However, the strain of recent seasons, very high pitch counts, and unsurprising injuries have dragged down Verlander's career. He has been out for more than two months, and he just did return to the Tigers' rotation for his 2015 major-league debut last Saturday. He was okay, giving up two runs in five innings. What should be of concern for the Tigers is that Verlander threw 87 pitches in those five innings, just over 17 pitches per inning. If he regularly needs 17 pitches to get through innings, he won't be able to go beyond six innings in his first several starts. He's definitely going to be monitored by manager Brad Ausmus such that his pitch counts will be managed. If Cincinnati can get to Detroit's bullpen in the sixth inning, it has to like its chances. The Reds got a few runs against that Tiger pen on Tuesday in a road win in Detroit.
Verlander is a question mark, but Leake is just not pitching very well right now. On top of that, the Reds have actually dropped six of his last seven starts. When given a choice between an unknown and a player who is definitely struggling, go with the unknown. Take the Tigers with your MLB picks.
Pick: Detroit +102 at Pinnacle