MLB Pick: Rays to Stay Hot On The Road Visiting The Tigers

Friday, May 20, 2016 1:00 PM GMT

Anibal Sanchez has resembled a shell of his former self for the Tigers while Matt Andriese has been solid in two starts for the red-hot Rays, making Tampa Bay the MLB pick.

 

The road team just completed a three-game sweep of the defending American League East Champion Blue Jays in Toronto, and it now looks to stay hot on the road Friday night when Matt Andriese and those Tampa Bay Rays (19-19, 9-8 away) again pay a visit to fellow right-hander Anibal Sanchez and the Detroit Tigers (19-21, 8-9 home) in the opening game of a three-game weekend series from Comerica Park in Detroit, MI at 7:10 ET on FOX Sports - Detroit.

The posted money line at Bookmaker has Tampa Bay as a tiny underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +103.

 

Now at .500 and Drawing Closer to First Place
The Rays were picked by many experts to finish last in the American League East before the season, and things did look bleak during a slow start to the year. However, the Rays have caught fire, especially offensively as they bludgeoned the Blue Jays for 31 runs during the three-game sweep that concluded Wednesday, bringing them to the .500 mark at 19-19 and leaving Tampa Bay manageable 4½ games out of first place while third in the division.

The Tigers have also been hot as the winning MLB picks in their last four games in a row and they also come off of a three-game sweep, although it came over the team with the worst record in the American League in the 10-30 Minnesota Twins here at home. Like Tampa Bay, Detroit also comes off of an off day yesterday although the Tigers did not have to travel. Then again, the Rays made a very short trip from Toronto to Detroit.


 

Andriese Should Get Good Run Support
Besides the scoring onslaught up in Canada, the Rays also set a couple of franchise records as the 44 hits and 20 extra-base hits both set team records for a three-game series. Furthermore, Tampa Bay now surprisingly leads the Major Leagues in home runs with 58, so given the form of their mound opponent Sanchez, they figure to support Andriese very well here. Then again, Andriese may not need much support based on his first two starts this season!

The Rays had such an ample amount of off days early in the year that they were able to go with a four-man rotation for the entire month of April. But when they finally needed a fifth starter for their May 8th game vs. the Los Angeles Angels, they recalled Andriese from Durham and he promptly held the Halos to one run on four hits in seven innings.

As great as that 2016 debut was, he then topped it in his second start tossing a Complete Game two-hit shutout vs. the Oakland Athletics last Saturday without walking a single batter, as he managed the Complete Game on a reasonable 106 pitches. Andriese is continuing to display the fine command he had at Durham, where he had a 2.04 FIP when he was called up, and this being his first ever appearance against the Tigers could make him tougher to hit.

 

Where Has Sanchez’s Command Gone?
Sanchez used to be among the more underrated pitchers in the game, but that is no longer the case as he has seemingly lost it this season now that he is 32-years-old. Sanchez is 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA for the year with a weak command ratio of 39 strikeouts vs. 24 walks in 42.2 innings, and that ratio has been even worse over his last three starts, over which he has just 13 strikeouts vs. eight walks in 19 innings with a 5.68 ERA.

The thing that has made Sanchez underrated in the past was his command, but now his ugly 5.06 walks per nine innings will simply not cut it and he cannot really say that he has been unlucky either, as his even .300 BABIP allowed is right around the league average. Therefore, his peripherals are also weak as he has a 5.54 FIP and 5.05 xFIP, figures that validate his poor ERA.

Given how hot the Tampa Bay offense has been, it seems unlikely that Sanchez could turn back the clock tonight and turn in a vintage effort.

 

Tampa Bay Road Warriors
Finally, the Rays have been a good road team for several years and that has continued this season as they are currently 7-3 in their last 10 games away from St. Petersburg, compared to just a 10-11 record overall at Tropicana Field. The Rays are also 7-0 in their last seven road games vs. teams with losing records and 7-2 in their last nine after scoring five runs or more their previous game, while the Tigers are 1-5 in Sanchez’s last six starts overall.

We see no reason for tonight to be any different, so back Tampa Bay on the road visiting Detroit on Friday.

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MLB Pick: Rays +103
Best Line Offered:  at Pinnacle
MLB Record: 27-22-1, +8.77