No Moore Backing Texas vs Detroit, Please!

Sunday, May 6, 2018 6:56 PM UTC

Sunday, May. 6, 2018 6:56 PM UTC

Texas hosts Detroit at 8:05 ET on Monday. Detroit’s advantage in starting pitching will dictate how bettors should approach this game.

Detroit Tigers vs Texas Rangers

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Free MLB Pick: Detroit 1HBest Line Offered: at Heritage

Detroit might seem like a poor option if you only consider how starter Michael Fulmer (1-2, 2.80 ERA) played last season at Texas. Three of the runs produced or scored against Fulmer were by players who are on the DL. Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre remain injured for Texas’ depleted lineup.

In last year’s match-up, Fulmer, who was struggling with elbow issues which aren’t bothering him anymore, was off from the beginning, struggling to throw strikes and be efficient. He threw his sinker more than half the time and was hit hard.

The young Tiger is becoming a different pitcher than he was in that game by throwing his slider and curve more often. In his last game, for instance, his sinker use dropped 24% from his game against Texas and he threw his slider 34% of the time.
His slider was characterized by more vertical movement last year, which made his slider easier to track. This year, there’s more horizontal and less vertical movement. The Rangers are currently hitting .199 against this pitch. Another new feature of Fulmer’s pitching repertoire is his curve, which he’s throwing with 7 mph greater velocity. Because of these two pitches and because he’s throwing his sinker less, he’s inducing fewer ground balls and inducing more whiffs and strikeouts.

Whereas Fulmer faced Texas in its hottest month, the Rangers are struggling to rediscover the same success at home, where its OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is .720) is .679, over .100 down from last season. Its OPS is under .700 against right-handed pitchers and right-handed starters, both over .30 lower than against southpaws. The key match-up statistic is that Texas’ OPS is .601 against pitchers who are inducing a more balanced mix of fly balls and ground balls.

Texas bettors might counter that Fulmer’s career ERA is worse at night and on four days’ rest. Fulmer is still young so the sample size is still small. Plus, the divergence in these splits (day vs night and four days' vs five days’ rest) has reduced considerably since his first season. This season, this divergence is pronounced because he played an underachieving Cleveland team that was statistically due to finally explode and achieved a .400 BABIP (batting average of balls in play) against him.

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Matt Moore (1-4, 7.67 ERA) counters for Texas. The former Giant’s new ballpark has not been as kind to him in our MLB Picks. His home ERA is up 3.50 from last season. In his four home starts this season, Moore is 0-3 and has given up three, four or five runs despite not making it past the fifth inning. He allowed a hard contact rate of over 60% in two of those starts. Compared to his last strong season in 2016, his location is more predictable and otherwise making him more vulnerable. This season, there are four spots which he is hitting over 6% of the time. In 2016 there were only two such spots. This season, he is also throwing in the middle quadrants of the strike zone at a 5% higher rate.

The southpaw is a poor match-up against Detroit. The Tigers continue to be stronger against left-handed pitching with an OPS .21 higher against left-handed pitchers than right-handed and .139 higher (based on a small sample size) against southpaw starters than right-handed starters. For example, a new feature in the lineup, Dixon Machado, is achieving an OPS .100 higher against lefties than righties. Nick Castellanos’ BA is .200 higher against southpaws. He’s batting .313 on the season and will help Detroit not miss the injured Miguel Cabrera.

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