MLB Picks: American League Central Division Odds Update

Joe Freda

Friday, July 19, 2013 7:12 PM GMT

The Detroit Tigers (52-42) hold a slim 1 ½-game lead over the Cleveland Indians (51-44) in the American League Central.

However, they are minus 400 choices at MLB betting shops to hold on for the division’s title. Cleveland follows at a plus 275 price, while the Kansas City Royals (43-49) are a distant third at 14/1.

Tigers surge into the break 

Detroit surged back from a 1-6 slump at the end of June to reel off a 9-4 mark over its last 13 duels before the All-Star break. Jim Leyland’s club has lifted its scoring to a sizable 5.1 RPG, capped off with a stretch of 5.8 RPG since the start of July.

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has drilled 30 homers en route to a .365 BA. Detroit’s Max Scherzer has logged a stellar 13-1 record on the hill, while the team’s staff has hurled an MLB-high of 863 strikeouts. 

Cleveland has gone 3-9 against the Tigers, but ended last week’s action with a home sweep over Kansas City. The Indians have seven matchups left with Detroit, hosting a pivotal four-game set in early August.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has notched a team-high 57 RBIs, leading in hitting with a .301 BA. The Illinois native went 6-for-9 in his club’s set with the Royals, while closer Chris Perez moved to 13 saves for the year after two appearances.

Royals lead off the long shots 

Kansas City dropped five straight at the end of last week, outscored by a combined margin of 30-12. The Royals began last year’s second-half campaign with a dismal 3-7 mark over a 10-game homestand, while drawing Detroit this time around as their first foe off the break.

Kansas City’s bullpen has been one of its strong points, with the team’s relievers uniting for a 3.02 ERA. Royals outfielder David Lough has had his moments at the plate, lifting back to a .294 BA with a 6-for-16 run in his last four games. 

The Minnesota Twins (39-53) and Chicago White Sox (37-55) round out the division as its darkest horses, with both priced at 100/1. Minnesota was unable to recover from a 10-game losing streak, two months ago, while Chicago has plunged with a 5-13 mark in its last three weeks of action. 

Twins top hitter Joe Mauer (.320 BA) ran into a 0-for-15 slump at the end of June, but picked up with an 11-for-23 stretch heading into the All-Star break. White Sox slugger Adam Dunn has poked 24 homers, but his club has been held to a sparse 3.8 RPG overall. 

Check out more AL Central Odds from Willie Bee right here.

Back the Indians to collect 

I am adding a futures ticket on Cleveland as part of this week’s sports picks, finding the plus 275 price worth backing in this race. 

Cleveland is in position to hold its own over the next month, with four of its next five series slated against clubs with losing records. The Indians finish their season with five of their final eight sets played at home, while possibly even being road ‘chalk’ in some of the clubs late spots at Chicago, Kansas City, and Minnesota. 

Detroit is the more solid team overall, but the Tigers have blown enough chances over the season’s first half to make them an underlay at minus 400. Max Scherzer’s streak of wins came to a close last week with the Texas Rangers in town, while Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez dropped starts recently as heavy ‘chalk’ to the White Sox.

Look for this to be more of a neck-and-neck duel down the stretch than the MLB odds makers expect, giving an advantage to those with early tickets on the Indians.

Pick: Cleveland Indians +275 courtecy of Bovada