After blanking the Oakland Athletics Tuesday night, the Detroit Tigers can win their series in Wednesday's rubber game – but Oakland is the favorite on the MLB odds board.
Jason's 2015 record as of May 26: 25-15, plus-9.68 units ML; 0-2, minus-2.05 units Total
It's good to be the king. Both of our Tuesday MLB picks came through, including the Detroit Tigers (–112 away) beating the Oakland Athletics 1-0. Not only did David Price pitch seven shutout innings, Joba Chamberlain also got into the game and earned a hold for your fantasy team – you did pick up Chamberlain, right? And poor Jesse Chavez; just one run allowed, unearned at that, yet Chavez gets rung up for another loss.
We're right back at it Wednesday afternoon (3:35 p.m ET) for Game 3 of this three-game set at the Coliseum, but this time, it'll be Alfredo Simon pitching for the Tigers against Scott Kazmir. The MLB odds at press time have the A's pegged as –125 favorites, and our early consensus reports show 59 percent of bettors preferring Detroit at +120. Which side should we throw down on this time?
If you go purely by the results, Simon (3.61 FIP) is the easy choice. He's led the Tigers to 3.48 betting units in earnings on a team record of 6-3, while Kazmir (3.94 FIP) is 4.37 units in the hole with a record of 3-6. Seems simple enough. Simon made the All-Star team last year while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, and he's held up quite nicely since returning to the junior circuit. Not bad for a converted reliever and former Rule 5 draftee.
Kazmir has pitched quite well since making his big-league comeback in 2013 with Cleveland, but since we're being picky, we have to point out his increased walk rate. The veteran southpaw has issued 3.58 free passes per nine innings, up from 2.36 last year. Is it because Kazmir is throwing more cutters this season? Or is it just small sample size? Inquiring minds want to know.
We should also point out that Kazmir didn't get past six innings in any of his last five starts. Oakland's going to need some relief at some point in this game. That's not a welcome thought for A's supporters; Kazmir has four no decisions in his last seven starts, and Oakland won just one of them. The Athletics bullpen ranked No. 27 in the majors at minus-0.2 WAR going into Tuesday's game. And they used Tyler Clippard in the ninth – he threw 24 pitches, so Oakland probably won't have its nominal closer for Wednesday's rubber match.
Detroit will likely be without Joakim Soria, as well, after he threw 19 pitches while earning the save on Tuesday. But Simon went at least seven innings in two of his last three starts, and as a unit, the Tigers bullpen ranks No. 14 in the majors at plus-0.9 WAR, so things could be worse. Chamberlain only threw seven pitches in Game 2, maybe he can bogart a save on Wednesday.
The numbers might be a bit skewed, given how poorly Kazmir pitched during his failed stint with the Los Angeles Angels, but current Detroit hitters have a combined .863 OPS off Kazmir. One of the more surprising names on the list: OF Rajai Davis, who's 10-for-21 lifetime with one home run and a 1.333 OPS. Need to add some steals to your lineup? Davis has 11 swipes to go along with his 20 runs scored this year. And he's only owned in 41% of Yahoo leagues as we go to press.
It appears we'll be putting the Tigers (27-20, plus-4.13 units) in our MLB Picks once again. The A's (17-31, minus-19.05 units) have been throwing money on the ground and lighting it on fire. It's nice to have Ben Zobrist back from a month-long injury layoff, but it's going to take more than that to get this ship turned around.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Tigers at BetOnline