Road Dog On A Streak Offers Great Value: Make Tigers Your MLB Pick vs. Astros

Willie Bee

Friday, April 15, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Friday, Apr. 15, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

The Tigers and Astros go to Game 3 to decide their weekend series, and it's Houston pegged as slight favorites on the MLB odds for Sunday's clash.

17th April
Tigers vs. Astros Game 3

By: Willie Bee


It was a case of the tortoise vs. the hare in the second game of a weekend set between the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. Starring in the role of the rabbit, Houston jumped out to a 3-0 lead behind 1st-inning homers from George Springer and Tyler White. Detroit then donned its shell and dribbled out runs over the next eight frames for a 5-3 triumph.

The two clubs will decide matters Sunday afternoon (2:10 PM ET) when the Astros pin their hopes of a series win on Mike Fiers, Pinnacle listing the hard-throwing righthander as -131 chalk. Anibal Sanchez counters for Detroit, MLB odds for the tilt also including an 8½ run total.


Home Runs Have Been An Issue For Fiers
Despite not working through the sixth in either of his two starts, Sanchez has been around long enough to pick up the win in each outing. He was coasting with five shutout innings Tuesday against the Pirates before things started to unravel, Pittsburgh scoring both of its runs that frame in an 8-2 Tigers victory. Sanchez has seen the Astros twice in the past few years, both assignments coming in Detroit where the Astros knocked him around last May, scoring seven times before chasing the Venezuelan in the sixth.

Fiers only made one mistake five days ago vs. the Royals, but it cost him and the Astros in a 3-2 setback to Kansas City. Lorenzo Cain's 1st-inning homer plated all three KC runs, and serving up the long ball has been an early issue with three big flies in his first 11 innings of work. Fiers saw the Tigers once after joining Houston late last season, allowing two unearned runs for a no decision in an eventual 6-5 Astros victory. JD Martinez and Miguel Cabrera have given him the most trouble, that pair combining to bat .455 against Fiers with three extra base hits in12 plate appearances.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Calling the balls and strikes in the season finale will be Rob Drake who has split the totals on the MLB odds in his first two plate appearances. It's worth mentioning the 'over' was a scoring fest at Coors Field. Drake had the dish twice last season in Houston, one of the games a 9-6 slugfest between the Astros and Yankees that went well past the total and the other an extra-inning 'under' vs. the Rays in which Dallas Keuchel was one of the starting pitchers.

The threat of potentially serious thunderstorms means the roof will be shut for this one, and the slow start by Houston has me taking Detroit for my free MLB pick.

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MLB Pick:  Tigers +121
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Season: 7-7 (0.15)

16th April
Tigers vs. Astros Game 2

By: Willie Bee


Any notions that Dallas Keuchel could be headed for a troubled season were dispelled Friday evening. After being plagued by control issues his first two starts, the reigning American League Cy Young winner twirled eight shutout innings to deliver the Houston Astros to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in the opener of their weekend set.

A first inning run stood up for Houston to end a 3-game losing skid and stop a 3-game Tigers win streak, the decision giving Keuchel a 17-game win streak at Minute Maid. The Astros will now turn to Collin McHugh in search of their first series win of the young season Saturday night (7:10 PM ET), Detroit hoping to even the set with Justin Verlander on the mound. MLB odds for the affair have Houston a -130 favorite, Bookmaker hoisting a 9 run total juiced to the 'under' while BetOnline has it 8½ and leaning 'over.'


Verlander, McHugh Each Looking For Consistency
No longer the elite, power pitcher he once was, Verlander was hoping to build on a decent showing in the second half of 2015 after injuries shelved him the first three months. The 33-year-old righthander enjoyed a very strong spring -- 2.84 ERA, 19 IP -- to suggest he could get back to being the stopper in the Tigers rotation, and looked good in his season debut before losing to the Pirates on Monday. The good news is he has given the Astros fits since they joined the AL a few years ago, including seven shutout innings in Houston last August, limiting them to three hits while striking out seven.

McHugh was hammered in his first start of the 2016 campaign in New York, the Yankees chasing him just one out into the first of a 16-6 blowout. He bounced right back five days ago in the Astros home opener, tossing seven scoreless innings in an 8-2 victory over the Royals, the only dubya in that 4-game set. Houston lost McHugh's two starts vs. the Tigers last year despite the righty pitching to a 2.57 ERA in the 14 combined innings.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Sam Holbrook should call balls and strikes for this one, the 17-year veteran already have two 'under' winners on his card in his first couple of plate assignments of 2016. The baseball odds were pretty evenly split a season ago when his record stood 13-12-1 O/U/P, and his last four matches under the mask in Houston all went past the marks.

The roof was open for the first time this season in Houston on Friday, but there's rain in the forecast today so we expect it to be shut. Detroit's loss doesn't scare me off the Tigers today when my free MLB pick will once again be on the underdog.

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MLB Pick:  Tigers +117
Best Line  at Heritage

Season: 6-7 (-1.00)

15th April
Tigers vs. Astros Game 1

By: Willie Bee


A couple of teams trending in opposite directions set the backdrop for a weekend series in Houston where the Astros host the Detroit Tigers, and it's the home team that would love to end the current trends before the second weekend of the 2016 MLB schedule draws to a close.

Houston should have a great shot at getting the series started on the right foot -- or left arm, as the case may be -- when the Astros send their ace to the hill in Friday's opener set for an 8:10 PM (ET) start. At least the MLB Odds for the contest suggest so with the Astros having Dallas Keuchel on the hill as decided -185 chalk. Mike Pelfrey is up next in the Motown pitching mix, 8½ the total and shaded to the low side at Pinnacle.

Detroit comes to town on a 3-game win streak and just a half-game out of first in the AL Central behind the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. It was the Royals who just departed Houston after taking the final three of their 4-game series with the Astros who are sitting in the basement of the early AL West ranks.


Astros 20-1 In Keuchel's Last 21 Home Starts
The 9th-overall pick in 2005 out of Wichita State by the Mets, Pelfrey was expected to anchor the New York rotation for years to come. He made a quick climb through all three levels of the minor league system to make his MLB debut at the end of 2006, but injuries and inconsistency have since been his MO. and he's with his second AL Central team in as many years after signing with the Tigers as a free agent.

The enigma continues in Detroit; after a solid spring that saw Pelfrey post a 2.66 ERA in five outings and hold opposing batters to a .203 average, the Yankees lit him up at normally pitcher-friendly Comerica Park last Saturday. Manager Brad Ausmus was forced to pull him just two outs into the fourth, New York already collecting eight hits and six runs. The Astros have seen him three times in the last few years, each a Houston victory and knocking Pelfrey around to the tune of a 9.24 ERA in under 13 innings.

Keuchel's biggest problem in his first two starts of 2016 has been control, the southpaw issuing 10 free passes to the Yankees and Brewers on the road last week. He only had 11 walks in five April starts of his 2015 Cy Young season, and never walked more than four in a single game. Maybe returning to the mound in Houston where he enjoyed most of his success last season will help turn that around. The Astros were 17-1 in his 18 home starts last year, one of those victories a 5-1 decision vs. Detroit as Keuchel worked the first seven frames allowing just one run and striking out eight.


'Under' Has Been A Series Winner In Houston Last 2 Years
This has been a pretty even series since it began on the interleague front in 1998, the Astros with a slight edge in the games played in Houston while the Tigers own a little larger advantage in Detroit to enjoy a 19-17 record overall. But we need to remember the Astros owned the Tigers in 1998-99 with a 6-0 mark, and Detroit has a 13-8 record since Houston joined the American League in 2013.

The last two seasons have seen the Astros win both series at Minute Maid Park, two games to one, good enough to put a couple of units of profit into any baseball bettor's pockets backing the Bayou City 9. Four of the six played in Houston stayed 'under' totals in the 7½-8½ range.

There's not any real rain threat in the Houston forecast, but muggy conditions suggest the roof will be shut this evening. Houston bats have gone cold the last three days while Detroit hitters are heating up, so my free MLB Pick will be on the underdog Tigers in this one despite Keuchel's home prowess.

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MLB Pick:  Tigers +178
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage

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