It's one of the best road teams in baseball against one of the worst at home when Detroit visits Arizona in Game 2 of their interleague series on Tuesday night. The Tigers opened as -130 favorites on MLB odds with a total of 8.5 runs.
Torn Tigers Fans?
I have several friends who are devout Detroit Tigers fans and I can tell you they are slightly conflicted about this series. Why? Because two of the greatest Tigers from that epic 1984 World Series team are Diamondbacks coaches: Manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell (also a former Tigers manager). Alas, both are likely to be looking for work after this season with new chief baseball officer Tony La Russa expected to clean house after the season because Arizona has flopped so mightily.
Because this interleague series is in a National League park, that means the Tigers need to find a place to play for their leading hitter, DH Victor Martinez (.322 entering Monday). They aren't likely to take him out of the lineup, and he really can only play first. Thus you may see Miguel Cabrera move back to the hot corner for a couple of games. That would leave rookie Nick Castellanos as the odd man out.
Diamondbacks fans likely are wondering where the team might be if Mark Trumbo, the big offseason acquisition from the Angels, had been healthy. Sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot since April 21, Trumbo was recently activated from the DL. He's only hitting .202 entering Monday but does have seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 99 at-bats. Coincidence or not, the Snakes are 4-2 in games he has played since returning. Arizona remains without shortstop Chris Owings (.277), an NL Rookie of the Year candidate. Well, he was a candidate before suffering a shoulder injury. He hasn't played since June 25 and just had a minor setback in rehab so probably won't be back until the end of the month at the earliest.
The Tigers and Diamondbacks do have something else in common besides Gibson and Trammell: struggling closers. Joe Nathan has a 6.06 ERA and five blown saves for the Tigers -- he has been scored upon in 10 of his past 21 appearances -- but Manager Brad Ausmus said he isn't considering any changes there even though eighth-inning guy Joba Chamberlain has been very good. That could change, however, if the Tigers land Joaquin Benoit from the Padres. The two sides have been talking about a deal and San Diego is in fire sale mode after trading closer Huston Street over the weekend to the Angels. Arizona's Addison Reed, the team's other big offseason acquisition, has a 4.08 ERA and five blown saves. He's not in any danger of losing his job, either.
Rick Porcello (12-5, 3.39) gets the call for the Tigers, and he has to be the best No. 4 starter in the majors this year. He, not Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander or Anibal Sanchez, leads the team in wins. Porcello could take the sole AL lead in victories with one here as he's tied with injured Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees. One thing Porcello has really done more of this year is pitch to contact. He's not trying to strike everyone out. He has only 67 in 119.1 innings and has had more than five in just two of his past 10 outings. Porcello has been great on the road of late, allowing just one run over 22 innings in his past three away starts. Only a handful of Diamondbacks have ever faced him. Trumbo is 4-for-13 against Porcello with two RBIs. Aaron Hill is 2-for-11 with a home run. Miguel Montero is 2-for-3 with a dinger.
It's rookie right-hander Chase Anderson (6-4, 3.64) for the Diamondbacks. Arizona won his first five big-league starts but then lost the next four. However, last time out he held the Marlins to a run over six innings in a victory. It's almost tough to get a decision in 10 straight starts these days but Anderson has. Anderson is 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA in six home starts. No Tiger has ever faced him.
MLB free picks
Take the Tigers and the 'under' at +105 as your MLB betting picks for this game. Porcello has obviously been lights out on the road. Detroit is 8-1 in Porcello's past nine road starts and in his past nine starts in Game 2 of a series. The Tigers don't know Anderson so he should be able to keep their lineup mostly in check for the first two times through the lineup.