Have the wheels come off the Detroit Tigers? They've lost six of their last nine games, but the baseball odds are still in their favor for Tuesday's matchup with the Oakland A's.
Jason's 2015 record as of May 25: 23-15, plus-7.66 units ML; 0-2, minus-2.05 units Total
Things are looking up in Detroit. The city's no longer in Chapter 9 bankruptcy; gas is cheap, big-ass SUVs are back in fashion, and tourists are coming back to Motown. Were you able to grab one of those Frank Gehry-designed houses on the cheap five years ago? No? Drat.
Oh well. There's always the Detroit Tigers – although they've given up a lot of the gains they made earlier in the season. The Tigers are still up 3.13 units on the season at 26-20, but they've dropped six of their last nine games to fall into third place in the AL Central. That includes Monday's 4-0 loss at the hands of the Oakland Athletics (–133 at home). As we go to press, Detroit is a –115 MLB odds chalk for Tuesday's contest (10:05 p.m. ET), with former Cy Young winner David Price taking the mound for the Tigers against Jesse Chavez.
Insert Price-Related Pun Here
If –115 seems like a bargain for one of the best pitchers in the majors, you're not wrong. Price (3.35 FIP) was a surprisingly unprofitable commodity after winning the AL Cy Young in 2012:
Price 2012 (3.05 FIP): 21-10, plus-7.33 units
Price 2013 (3.03 FIP) : 14-13, minus-7.46 units
Price 2014 (2.78 FIP): 20-14, minus-2.63 units
That 2014 record includes a loss of 1.30 units with the Tigers on a team record of 6-5, after Price came over at the trade deadline in the 3-way that sent Drew Smyly et al to the Tampa Bay Rays, and Austin Jackson to the Seattle Mariners. But it's all been good for Price this year; he's up 6.17 units on a team record of 8-1, even though his peripheral stats are down a bit thus far.
Luck is a double-edged sword. While Price has pitched well enough this year, he's got five no-decisions after nine starts, and Detroit won all five of them, four by a single run. The Tigers bullpen only ranks No. 14 in the majors (plus-0.8 WAR), but the batting order is third overall at 10.2 WAR, and the Tigers have been giving Price a healthy 4.67 runs per game of support. Again, it's all good.
Monday's win notwithstanding, this has been a rough season for the Athletics (17-30, minus-18.05 units). They're in last place in the American League and last place on the money charts. But at least they've won three games in a row now, and hey, Ben Zobrist (5.6 WAR last year in Tampa) was just activated off the DL. Maybe this is where Oakland turns the season around.
Chavez (2.83 FIP) could be part of that renaissance. The journeyman righty has been quietly effective for the A's as a spot starter/injury fill-in since they picked him up on the cheap in 2012. Chavez made 5.07 units of profit for Oakland supporters last year on a team record of 14-7, but despite his best efforts this year, the Athletics are 1-5 in his six starts for a deficit of 4.75 units. Three of those losses were by a single run; Chavez has gotten a paltry 3.10 runs per game of support from the A's, who average 4.3 runs per game overall.
We could make an argument that Oakland is a value MLB pick here, but we're going to have to ride the hot hand with Price – which means it's time to fatten up that neglected “holds” category. Joba Chamberlain (3.45 FIP, five holds) has been named the top set-up man in Detroit, and he's allowed just two earned runs in 16 appearances this year. Get him while the getting's good. He's 1% owned in Yahoo leagues as we go to press.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Tigers at Bovada.