When the Seattle Mariners visit the Detroit Tigers on Thursday we’ll be faced with a classic decision – go with career statistics or recent performance when picking a winner. Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello has thrown very well against the Mariners in his career, delivering a 3-1 record with a 3.16 ERA (that’s about 1.5 runs per game less he concedes per game when he faces Seattle than his overall career rate). At the same time, he’s coming off a shockingly bad performance in his most recent outing – he retired just three batters, giving up nine runs and ten hits in the process. So which fact guides us? Go with Porcello’s overall work and forget the most recent showing as an aberration.
Here’s why. Before that one bad game, the right-hander had pitched very well (three runs in 14 2/3 innings). Also, in Porcello’s brutal game, he was facing the Texas Rangers, a team boasting the American League’s second-best offence. In this game it’ll be Seattle with the fourth-worse offence. Throw in the fact that the Mariners’ pitcher Victor Noesi has been even more inconsistent than Porcello (two bad starts in three tries) and the Tigers are the club to pick – even at 1.48 – over the Mariners at 2.65.
The Chicago White Sox’s Phil Humber is expected to make his first start after throwing a historic perfect game against Seattle (just the 21st in history) last weekend. Can he build on the momentum at home versus the Boston Red Sox? I’m going to bet against it. Statistics show pitchers who have thrown a no-hitter or perfect game over the last three years won’t necessarily throw well afterwards. (ESPN.com found of the last eight pitchers to perform this feat, five threw better over their next five starts, while three did worse).
It doesn’t help that Humber is facing the Red Sox – a team that has finally started to find form in their hitting. Boston had put up double digits runs four times this season and over their past three games (through Tuesday) they’ve scored a robust 26 runs. Humber has surprised some hitters with his greater reliance on his slider, but the Red Sox will be ready. The White Sox are at home and on at 1.77, but take Boston at 2.05 to capture the win.