Coming into the season, the American League Central Division was according to sportsbooks and many other experts thought to be the most competitive division in major league baseball.
To this point, that is not exactly how it has worked out as the leaders have mostly had their way against the MLB odds and distanced themselves from the other three teams, but as any MLB baseball handicapper understands with many sports picks, things can and will change quickly.
In our continuing look at each division in the big leagues from the pitching perspective relative to making a profit, this is the latest on the AL Central.
Detroit and Kansas City Finding Different Pitching Methods to Win
The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals have been embroiled in a heated race in the division since Day 1 and chances are it will stay that way into September. Kansas City has been among the best bets for MLB picks this season. Not everyone was convinced they were as good as they appeared to be AL champions and nearly World Series champs. They have come out to show the world they deserved what they earned last year and have been undervalued, as noted by being an underdog 10 times already. Feeling underappreciated,the Royals have won eight of those contests and are once again dominating the late innings with their relievers owning a ridiculous 1.02 ERA, with their opponents having a laugh out loud .211 OBP.
Manager Ned Yost asks his starting pitchers to give six strong innings and with an improved offense, the Royals are essentially forcing foes to have a lead going into the seventh or the games are for all intents and purposes over.
Detroit has gone another path, leaning on starting pitching and they are fourth in the AL in ERA and OPS. Among the duties of the starters is keep the horsehide in the yard and they are tied for second in the league in that category. The bullpen problems are not solved, but they are less of issue to date. Late in games Tom Gorzelanny, Joba Chamberlain and closer Joakim Soria are doing their jobs and the Tigers have only one blown save. If Justin Verlander can return healthy, Detroit should continue to best the betting odds.
Minnesota and Chicago Will Have to Hit to Win
The Minnesota Twins have been a better betting choice over the Chicago White Sox because of the offense. It is not like Minnesota is tearing the cover off the ball at 3.9 runs a game, but Pale Hose hitters have been more drab and low-cal vanilla ice cream in averaging 3.3 RPG.
The pitching staffs for both clubs have been unable to offset the offensive deficiencies, with Chicago 12th in runs allowed and Minnesota ninth. Where both teams pitching weaknesses are found in when you study the stat named on-base percentage + slugging allowed - OPS. The White Sox are 12th in the league and the Twins next to last and they surrender not only an unhealthy amount of base hits, but many are of the extra base variety which leads to runs scored.
The only way these two squads overcome this dilemma is by hitting or the pitchers start hitting their spots better.
Indians Need Help
Manager Terry Francona has a double-edged sword conundrum. He needs his hitters to score more runs to help his pitchers and he needs his pitchers to allow fewer runs to help the batters to make it easier to catch up if trailing. This has all led to Cleveland being 12th in run differential and a 7-12 record in games determined by two or more runs.
On the pitching side, Corey Kluber after starting well without winning results has been too fine with his tosses and seen his ERA shoot past four and T.J. House might have to go back to the pen with an ERA over 13 in four starts. (Went on DL in 5/1) The bullpen as a group was fourth in ERA last season and ranks ninth at the moment.
For the Tribe to be other than a play against outfit, the pitching and hitting have to come around.