Tigers The MLB Pick In Interleague Matinee Against Pirates

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 12:37 PM GMT

It's the conclusion of a two-game interleague series in Detroit this afternoon with the Pirates taking on the Tigers; then the teams play two more games in Pittsburgh; time to make your MLB pick.

Pirates Looking For Quick Sweep
Detroit was a -162 favorite at JustBet for Monday afternoon's opener against Pittsburgh with a total of 8.5. The Pirates knocked around Tigers starter Justin Verlander in a 7-4 win. Verlander allowed seven runs and 10 hits in just 4.1 innings. His 111 pitches were his most ever in a start lasting fewer than five innings. It was only the 13th time in franchise history a pitcher had thrown 110 or more pitches without getting through five full innings.

The Pirates' Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli each had three hits and an RBI. Being as it was in an American League park, the Pirates added the designated hitter and started Matt Joyce there. He had two hits and an RBI. Usual starting third baseman David Freese didn't start for rest but did enter for defense late. Jon Niese, acquired in a trade from the Mets this offseason for second baseman Neil Walker, got his first win as a Pirate, allowing three earned in six innings. Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save.

Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez each hit their first homers of the season for the Tigers. Catcher James McCann left in the sixth inning after spraining an ankle when he collided with Pirates first baseman John Jason. McCann clearly won't play here, meaning  Jarrod Saltalamacchia should start. McCann is hitting just .133 with two RBIs. Salty is hitting .286 with a homer and four RBIs.

Frankly, the most interesting thing from that game was a 39-year-old Tigers fan catching an incredible five foul balls -- it's not like the game was sparsely attended. The season-ticket holder gave them all away to kids. He also was interviewed on ESPN's SportsCenter. Pittsburgh is 3-4 'over/under' on MLB odds boards this season. Detroit is 4-1 O/U on MLB picks.

Probable Pitchers
The Pirates start another new addition, right-hander Juan Nicasio. He was spectacular in Grapefruit League play with no runs allowed and 24 strikeouts in 15 innings to earn Pittsburgh's No. 5 job in the rotation. Nicasio spent last year with the Dodgers and made just one start in 53 appearances. He was very good in his Pirates debut last Wednesday, beating the Cardinals and allowing one run and two hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking none.

He threw 84 pitches, including 50 fastballs that averaged 94.9 mph. Not many Tigers have faced Nicasio in a regular-season game and he has never pitched against Detroit. Justin Upton is 5-for-11 off him with three doubles and four walks. Martinez is 3-for-9 with an RBI. Saltalamacchia is 0-for-5 with five strikeouts.

The Pirates often take on a lot of low-cost reclamation projects like Nicasio. As a small-market, low-budget team, they really don't have a choice. He was a really promising pitcher in 2011 while with Colorado but was hit in the head by a line drive. Nicasio had to have major surgery to stabilize a fractured vertebra and his career was in jeopardy. It seemed to change him for a few years but  maybe he's finding his good stuff again.  

Detroit goes with Anibal Sanchez. He was solid in his first outing last week in Miami, allowing two runs and four hits over five innings, striking out three and walking three in a victory. He left the game in the sixth with a 5-0 lead but the bullpen allowed two inherited runners to score. Sanchez did face the Pirates last season and allowed five runs and eight hits over 6.1 innings, striking out nine, in a loss in Pittsburgh.

Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez (gone now) and Corey Hart all homered off him. Sanchez has allowed eight home runs in seven career starts against the Pirates. Freese is 3-for-8 with two doubles and an RBI career off Sanchez. Joyce is 5-for-18 with two triples, a double, a homer and five RBIs against him. Star Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-16 with four RBIs and seven strikeouts.

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Free MLB Pick: Tigers and 'under.' They are 4-1 in their past five interleague games. Detroit has won seven straight Sanchez starts at home. The 'under' is 6-1 in Pittsburgh's past seven on the road. The 'under' is 5-2 in Pittsburgh's past seven at home vs. a right-handed starter. 
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline