MLB Picks: Behind Stellar Rookie Michael Fulmer Back Tigers At Rangers

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, August 14, 2016 1:47 PM UTC

Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016 1:47 PM UTC

It's a potential American League playoff preview on Sunday afternoon from Globe Life Park in Arlington as Texas hosts Detroit in a series finale. The Tigers are -113 favorites on BetOnline MLB odds with a total of 10 runs.

What You Need To Know
Barring a collapse, the Rangers should repeat as AL West Division champions as they have the best record in the American League and also the biggest division lead by far in the Junior Circuit. Texas is a -1200 favorite on MLB odds to win the West. No team got better at the Aug. 1 trade deadline than the Rangers as they acquired two All-Stars in outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees and catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers -- but only after Lucroy vetoed a deal to the Cleveland Indians. He has been red-hot with Texas. Those are two fine moves, but the one worry about the Rangers is their rotation after Cy Young candidate Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish and they didn't address that.

The Rangers were also in the news this week when first baseman/DH Prince Fielder was forced to retire from baseball after a second neck surgery. That doesn't really hurt Texas this year as Fielder was struggling and already had been ruled out the rest of 2016. But the team still owes Fielder, the 2015 AL Comeback Player of the Year, $24 million a season through 2020. The good news is that the Detroit Tigers will pay $6 million a year of that as part of the trade that sent Fielder to Texas a couple of years ago for second baseman Ian Kinsler -- that turned out to be an awful trade for the Rangers. And reportedly the Rangers did have insurance on Fielder and that will pick up another $9 million per season.

As for Detroit, it's still in the AL Central race but trailing Cleveland. The Tigers are probably glad that Lucroy vetoed that Indians deal. Detroit is far better than Cleveland offensively, but the Tribe have the big edge in pitching. The Tigers host Cleveland for four games from Sept. 26-29 in the penultimate series of the regular season. Then Detroit closes at Atlanta and Cleveland in Kansas City. Advantage: Tigers.

Detroit is +300 on MLB picks to win the Central with the Tribe at -500.

One interesting side storyline in this Tigers-Rangers series is two of the favorites for AL Rookie of the Year are in it. In Bovada's most recent odds to win the award about a week ago, Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer was the -250 betting favorite and Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara was the +750 third-favorite. He's hitting .282 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs as of Saturday. Minnesota's Max Kepler (+500) was between the two.


Probable Pitchers
Fulmer takes the hill for Detroit. He was acquired at the 2015 trade deadline from the New York Mets for Yoenis Cespedes, one of those rare trades that really seems to have worked out great for both sides. Fulmer (9-3, 2.43 ERA) suffered his first loss since June 17 on Monday in Seattle despite a quality start that saw him pitch seven innings and allow two runs and five hits with six strikeouts. But the Tigers were shut out in the game by Hisashi Iwakuma and two relievers.

This will be Fulmer's first career start against Texas. He has faced Beltran, who is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Fulmer is 7-3 on the road this year with a 2.85 ERA. He is 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in seven day starts overall.  

Texas goes with right-hander A.J. Griffin (5-1, 4.38). He was once a young rising star with Oakland, going 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA as a rookie in 2012 and 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA the next year. But he didn't make it back to the majors until this season because of arm/shoulder injuries. He also had a six-week DL trip earlier this season, and since returning in late June hasn't pitched six full innings.

Last time out, Griffin took a no-decision in Colorado, allowing five runs and seven hits with three walks over 4.2 innings. He pitched in Detroit on May 7 and lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing three runs and four hits while walking three. The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera kills him career, going 5-for-7 with two homers and four RBIs. Kinsler is 2-for-15 off Griffin. Victor Martinez is 2-for-4. J.D. Martinez is 0-for-7.

MLB Free Picks: Tigers and 'under.' They are 8-2 in Fulmer's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The 'under' is 4-1 in his past five. The 'under' is 9-2-2 in the Rangers' past 13 overall. 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle Sports

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