A young ace goes against a former ace when the Pirates and Tigers open a three-game inter-league series Tuesday night at Comerica Park. This handicapper prefers the young gun for tonight's free MLB pick.
Pirates-Tigers Tuesday Betting Odds
In the early betting the best price available on Pittsburgh and Gerrit Cole was the -111 offered at Pinnacle, while Detroit and Justin Verlander were getting +106 at Heritage. But the Tigers were favored by -130 at Bovada to win this series, with the Pirates “getting” +100.
Detroit just took two of three games at home from the White Sox over the weekend, coming from behind to win Sunday 5-4 on a walk-off homer. So the Tigers have won two series in a row, and five of their last seven games. At 39-36 Detroit is six games out in the AL Central race, but only one game back in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just took two of three games from Atlanta over the weekend, losing the series finale Sunday 2-1. Just before that the Pirates had lost two series in a row, and five of six games. At 42-33 Pittsburgh trails division-leading St. Louis by nine games in the NL Central, but leads the National League wild-card race.
These teams may play in different leagues, but they meet regularly, and have already met this season, back in April, when the Tigers took two of three games from the Pirates at PNC Park. Two of those games played UNDER the totals.
Verlander (0-1, 6.17) is 0/2 on quality starts since beginning his season, after doing a stint on the DL with a strained triceps. Seventeen days ago, in his season debut, he held Cleveland to two runs through five innings, but 11 days ago the Yankees got him for six runs and 10 hits, including three dingers, through 6 2/3 innings. So for the season Verlander has allowed eight runs through 11 2/3 innings, with just four strikeouts; Detroit lost both those games, and both games played OVER the totals.
Verlander missed his last turn in the rotation because of a sore back, but has been deemed ready to go for tonight.
Verlander has actually faced Pittsburgh five times in his career, winning the first four meetings. But last August he got clipped for five runs – four earned – in just one-plus innings of work in an 11-6 Tigers loss.
Cole (11-3, 2.16) is 12/15 on quality starts this year, including a recent string of eight in a row, but last time out got nicked for four runs in the first inning by the Reds, and didn't make it through five innings, in a 5-2 loss. But in our minds a performance like that just sets Cole up for a bounce-back effort his next time out.
On the season Cole has allowed fewer hits, 83, than innings pitched, 96, walked 25 and struck out 102; Pittsburgh is 11-4 in Cole's starts, with the totals leaning UNDER by a 9-4 margin.
In his only career start against Detroit, back in April, Cole allowed just one run and three hits through six innings of a game Pittsburgh eventually won 5-4.
Tuesday's Batting Splits
Detroit ranks fourth in the Majors against right-handed pitching this season with a .330 team on-base percentage, while Pittsburgh ranks 17th against righties with a .316 OBP.
Totals Betting Trends
Detroit has played 10 games in a row that have gone OVER the MLB odds total, scoring and allowing at least five runs six times each during that span.
Games played at Comerica Park this season are 19-18 on the UNDERS, averaging 8.7 runs per.
Pirates-Tigers Tuesday Free Picks
In expectation of a bounce-back effort from Cole we like Pittsburgh tonight. Also, these teams played a pair of UNDERS when they met back in April, and the only game that played OVER was 5-1 going into the ninth inning. So we're thinking UNDER as the second part of our MLB picks.
MLB Picks: Pirates -111 and UNDER 7.5 runs (+102) at Pinnacle