MLB Pick: Tigers to Take First Five Over Royals on Sunday

Jay Pryce

Sunday, July 17, 2016 1:53 PM UTC

Sunday, Jul. 17, 2016 1:53 PM UTC

The Royals take on the Tigers in a rubber game between AL Central rivals at Comerica Park Sunday afternoon. Need a pick? Check out our free one here.

Kansas City Royals (46-44) - Yordano Ventura (6-7, 5.15 ERA)
The Royals accomplished something they rarely do away from Kauffman Stadium last night: score runs. Their 8-4 win over the Tigers in Detroit is just the third time they have pushed across four runs or more on the road since May 25. Their 3.25 away runs per game rank fewest in MLB.

Manager Ned Yost's crew will likely need to score in bunches again if they hope to claim victory behind this afternoon's starter Yordano Ventura. The Royals are just 3-8 in 2016 when aiding the flamethrower with four runs or fewer in a game.

Historically, Ventura dominates the Tigers. He is 6-0 in eight overall appearances (seven starts) registering a 3.27 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. The hard-tossing right-hander holds the current roster to a .248 batting average (30-for-121) with Victor Martinez slugging two home runs in 21 plate appearances. Ventura has really baffled the left side of the diamond, holding third baseman Nick Castellanos and shortstop Jose Iglesias to .143 averages each—both are 2-for-14 lifetime.

The OVER has shown a small profit in each of Ventura's three seasons with the Royals when he commands the hill as a road dog. The score surpassed the total 17 of 28 times, showing a 28 percent profit to bettors. In 2016, the record is 5-3 with Ventura and the pen allowing 4.6 runs per game. Yost's club opened at +138 MLB odds for today's contest.

After posting winning records as a road underdog in each of its last two World Series-reaching seasons, Kansas City is just 11-27 in 2016. Fading baseball's reigning champions net investors a 23 percent return to date. As one would expect, offense is the issue, scoring 2.8 runs per game when expected to lose in the betting market.


Detroit Tigers (47-44) - Michael Fulmer (9-2, 2.11 ERA)
Despite suffering defeat last night as favorites, Detroit dominates as home chalk this season, going 19-8 at -131 average odds. The team rewards backers with 26 percent profit, returning a heftier 60 percent to those risking the run line with a 17-10 record at +157 average odds.

The red-hot Michael Fulmer takes the pill for skipper Brad Ausmus. The Tigers are 11-2 in the rookie's outings this season, with one of the two blemishes coming against the Royals in a 10-3 loss at Kauffman Stadium. Fulmer tossed well in his one and only appearance against their AL Central rivals, yielding one earned run on five hits in 5.2 innings of work. K.C. blasted Ausmus' suspect bullpen for nine runs in the final two innings, however.

Detroit can flat out hit. Its .267 batting average (sixth), .437 slugging percentage (seventh), .316 BABIP (seventh) and 4.77 runs per game (10th) each rank in the top ten in MLB. At Comerica Park, the numbers increase, particularly against starters putting up pedestrian numbers. Versus those with a 4.00 ERA or higher, Detroit slugs in 6.3 runs on 10.9 hits per game. The team owns a 10-4 record in these games with the OVER going 9-3-2 (11.1 average score). Ventura enters the contest sporting an ugly 5.15 ERA.


Final Analysis
Fulmer is brilliant right now. He has not given up more than one earned run in any start since gifting four in a 6-5 win at Baltimore on May 15. Its even more remarkable when one considers only three of his 13 lifetime outings have come at Comerica Park. We like the Tigers this afternoon, but only in the first half, as the bullpen is untrustworthy.

In three career starts at Detroit, Ventura and the Royals have yielded three runs or more through the first half in each. Fulmer has given up three runs through the first five just three times in his career, gifting one and tossing two shutouts in his only home appearances. Detroit to cover the half run through the first five innings at -105 odds offered at most sportsbooks is the free MLB pick.

Free MLB Pick:  F5 Tigers -½ -105 
Best Line Offered:  at Pinnacle

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