It’s been a forgettable year for Justin Verlander, but Thursday’s tilt between his Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins will be a good one for the usual ace.
Verlander currently has his worst ERA since 2008. He’s also given up more hits per game and put up his worst walk ratios in years – as well as seeing his strikeout rate drop.
So why pick him? Even a less-that-optimal Verlander is good enough in this contest. The right-hander has historically owned hitters on the Twins’ roster. Those batters have a .189 batting average against in 116 lifetime plate appearances. In addition, in two starts this season against the Twins, he’s pitched 13 innings and allowed one run, striking out 15 batters.
It’s also worth noting that Verlander has killed weak teams this year. In eight starts against clubs with winning percentages under .500, he’s 5-3 with a 2.08 ERA. Minnesota has given Andrew Albers the pitching assignment. The left-hander was fantastic in his first two starts, giving up zero runs in 17 1/3 innings.
But I’m afraid his most recent start, in which he gave up five runs in seven innings against the Chicago White Sox, is more indicative of his talents. Albers has never been a prospect and has endured time in independent professional baseball before breaking through at the Big League level. Look for a Tigers win; take them at 1.36.
If you’re searching for a very safe bet, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a strong pick at the Miami Marlins. There is a huge disparity between these teams. The Marlins have the worst record in the National League, while the Dodgers are easily leading the circuit’s West division.
Home field is normally an advantage, but in this case Miami has a worse home winning percentage (below .450) than Los Angeles has on the road (.571). Beyond those broad factors, the pitching match-up heavily skews in the Dodgers’ favor.
They send Cy Young award candidate Clayton Kershaw to the pitcher’s mound. Kershaw leads the NL in ERA (1.80) and has delivered ten straight quality starts (six innings or more pitched; three runs or less conceded).
The Marlins counter with Henderson Alvarez. The right-hander tallied a handful of good starts earlier in the year, but has struggled in his past two outings, going 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA. In addition, he’s been far more roughed up against winning teams (4.20 ERA) than against losers (2.57 ERA). The odds aren’t great for the Dodgers (1.38), but the safety factor in picking them is high.
Tigers to beat the Twins at 1.36
Dodgers to beat the Marlins at 1.38