MLB Pick: Twins & Tigers To Go Over With Zimmermann Regressing

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 16, 2016 3:00 PM GMT

Jordan Zimmermann may be starting to come back to earth after the deceptive 5-0 start to his Tigers career, and continued regression could key an ‘over’ vs. the Twins on Monday.

 

The “name” pitcher could be regressing to his rather weak peripheral statistics, and that could key an ‘over’ Monday night when young Jose Berrios and the Minnesota Twins (10-26, 4-16 away) pay a visit to overachieving fellow right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and the Detroit Tigers (16-21, 5-9 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Comerica Park in Detroit, MI at 7:10 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Detroit.

The posted total at Heritage Sports is 8½ for this contest with the current MLB odds on the ‘over’ set at +100.

 

Break Up the Twins!
The Twins have the worst record in the American League at 10-26, but they were 8-26 after losing the first game of a weekend series at Cleveland despite the offense awakening in the 7-6 defeat, and they then won that series by winning the last two games while continuing to produce runs, prevailing by scores of 6-3 and 5-1 respectively. We think that the Twins are a team with some upside as they look much better on paper than their miserable record.

While the Twins bring up the rear in the American League Central, the Tigers are just ahead of them in fourth, albeit with a 5½-game bulge on Minnesota. Detroit won the series finale in Baltimore 6-5 over the Orioles yesterday after being the losing MLB pick in the first three games of that four-game series, and the Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak overall.


 

Deeper Look at Zimmermann is Not Flattering
Zimmermann was the big free agent signing for the Tigers this off-season and he proceeded to go 5-0 over his first five American League starts before losing his last two outings, most recently to his former team the Washington Nationals in interleague play Wednesday. A quick glance at Zimmermann’s 1.50 ERA and 1.10 WHIP would lead most to believe that he has been lights out, especially considering he is also a perfect 7-for-7 in Quality Starts.

However, a deeper look reveals that Zimmermann has been quite fortunate so far while pitching in the more offensively oriented league for the first time in his career, and that is sure to start catching up to him very soon. For starters, he has a very low strikeout rate of 5.25 per nine innings that would easily be a career-low if it stays at that level, and he has benefitted from an insane 88.1 percent strand rate despite pitching to so much contact, which should not continue.

Once that strand rate stabilizes, the deceptive ERA should start to approach Zimmermann’s weak xFIP, which currently stands at 4.62, more than three full runs higher than the ERA! The regression may have already begun with Zimmermann allowing three earned runs in each of his last two starts after allowing a total of two earned runs over his first five starts in a Tiger uniform, and he is now catching a Minnesota offense finally beginning to heat up.

 

Minnesota Bullpen Hurts
Now, we are actually quite high on Berrios as he should have a fine career ahead of him, and he is already showing why after a rough Major League debut in miserable weather conditions in Cleveland, as he has allowed a total of five runs in his last two starts and now has 19 strikeouts in 14.1 Major League innings with many of those coming on a wicked curveball that belies his 21 years of age.

It is easy to see why Berrios is one of the most highly regarded pitching prospects in all of baseball when you combine that excellent curveball with a 97 MPH fastball, but the Twins are being very careful with the youngster by monitoring his innings early on, and understandably so. Thus, Berrios has yet to work beyond 5.2 innings and he does not figure to go more than six innings tonight either if he could last that long vs. the potent Detroit lineup.

That means an expected early call to the Minnesota bullpen, and we could easily see that sub-par unit undoing whatever good Berrios may do while he is in the game. The Twins are 27th out of 30 Major League teams in bullpen ERA at 4.52, even worse than the 4.24 bullpen ERA of the traditionally bad Detroit bullpen. Thus, both of these pens are prone to allowing late tack-on runs to help this ‘over’ along.

 

Trending the ‘over’
Finally, both of these teams are riding solid ‘over’ trends entering this contest as it has gone 7-2 in the Tigers’ last nine games overall, as well as 7-2-1 in the Twins’ last 10 road games. The ‘over’ is also 17-5-1 in the Twins’ last 23 games vs. right-handed starters, as well as 20-8 in the Tigers’ last 28 games vs. right-handed starters.

We see no reason to buck those trends here with Zimmermann expected to continue to regress and with an expected relatively early call to the shaky Minnesota bullpen, so go ‘over’ again when Minnesota visits Detroit for the series opener from Comerica Park on Monday.

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MLB Pick: Tigers Over 8½ +100
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage
MLB Record: 21-20-1, +4.56