Detroit stands as one of the last two undefeated teams in baseball at 6-0, its hottest start since that magical 1984 season. Are the Tigers a lock MLB pick tonight when they visit Pittsburgh?
Monday's Betting Odds
Most of Monday's MLB betting market opened this game with Pittsburgh and Gerrit Cole favored by around -110 over Detroit and Anibal Sanchez, with a total of seven runs. But in the early betting action pushed the Tigers into short favorites.
Tigers-Pirates: Series Set-Up
Detroit is 6-0 on this young season, after sweeping the Indians three games in Cleveland over the weekend. The Tigers won 8-4 Friday, 9-6 Saturday and 8-5 Sunday. All three of those games played OVER on the totals.
Sunday Detroit scored three runs in both the first and second innings, giving starter Kyle Lobstein a lead to work with. The Indians got within 7-5 with a couple of runs in the bottom of the eighth, but the Tigers tacked one more on in the ninth, and Joakim Soria, closing in place of the injured Joe Nathan, threw a perfect frame for his second save of the season.
Detroit has now scored 47 runs through its first six games, helping the OVER/UNDERS go 4-2 in Tigers games.
Pittsburgh opened this season by getting swept three games in Cincinnati, but just took two of three games from the Brewers in Milwaukee over the weekend. The Pirates won Friday 6-2, lost Saturday 6-0, then took Sunday's rubber match 10-2.
Pittsburgh trailed Sunday 2-1 into the sixth inning, but Andrew McCutchen popped a three-run homer to give his team the lead. The Pirates then iced the victory with six runs in the top of the ninth.
One thing we'll have to keep in mind when placing MLB picks in this series is McCutchen's health; he's been bothered by a sore knee, and was slumping until hitting that homer Sunday.
Pittsburgh may have scored 10 runs Sunday, but going into that game it had scored just 14 runs through its first five games.
These teams split a four-game series last year, each team winning twice at their home fields. Also, those four games split 2-2 on the totals.
Monday's Starting Pitchers
Sanchez will be making his second start of this season, after picking up a victory over Minnesota last Wednesday. Sanchez held the Twins scoreless on three hits through 6 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out six in the 11-0 Tigers win.
Last year Sanchez, pitching around injuries, went just eight-for-21 on quality starts. Detroit went 12-9 in Sanchez' starts last season, with the totals leaning toward the OVERS by an 11-8 margin.
Sanchez last started against Pittsburgh two seasons ago, when he got nicked for five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 5-3 Detroit defeat.
Cole will be making his second start of this season, after giving up three runs in five innings in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati last Wednesday. Cole gave up single runs in the first, third and fourth innings, but left the game when it was tied 3-3. He also had to deal with a rain delay.
Last year Cole, by our strict standards, only went 10-for-21 on quality starts. But the Pirates went 15-7 in his starts, with the totals splitting 10-10.
This will be Cole's first-ever start against Detroit.
Pittsburgh ranked third in the Majors last season with a .746 OPS against right-handed pitching, while Detroit ranked fifth against righties with a .745 OPS. Those figures might bode well for the MLB odds OVER Monday.
Pittsburgh went 68-61 last year against right-handed starters.
Detroit went 62-50 last year against righties.
Monday's Free Pick
Sanchez struggled last year, but we were big fans of his before that, like when he led the American League in ERA in 2013. And his first outing this season was encouraging. So while we don't usually like going with the betting flow, we do like the Tigers for Monday.
Free MLB Pick: Detroit -103 at Pinnacle