After a day off on Monday, the Cleveland Indians get back at it after a disappointing to a disappointing four game series against Chicago, where the Tribe dropped three of four to the Sox. Alexi Ramirez hit a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth of John Axford to win it for the White Sox and now the Indians travel to Detroit for a set against the division favorite. The Tigers also had Monday off and return home from a West Coast trip that ended with a loss in San Diego. The series begins with a great pitching matchup that has Zach McAllister slated to start against Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers open -160 favorites with a total of 8.5 runs.
The Tigers only mustered seven runs in spacious Petco Park and their offense has been relatively off and on in a dozen games so far. Detroit still has an impressive lineup, but there’s a different feel about Brad Ausmus’ lineup than what Jim Leyland was running out every day last season. The losses of Prince Fielder and Johnny Peralta take a lot of pop out of Detroit’s middle of the order and Miguel Cabrera hasn’t been the same player he’s been the last two years, keeping in mind we’re still less than ten percent of the way through 2014. And two very good starting pitchers going at it in Comerica leads me to believe that we won’t see nine runs in this one.
Zach McAllister is a fly ball pitcher who is built to have success in Detroit. He threw there twice last year: once early and once late. Almost a year to the day, McAllister took the ball in Detroit and fired six strong innings in a 4-3 Cleveland win. In August he lasted less than four innings, but was plagued by control issues that come and go with him. Walks are occasionally an issue for McAllister. He didn’t throw any in his last time out against San Diego so I’m willing to hope that he brings that same diligence to Detroit Tuesday. If he’s throwing strikes, McAllister will have lots of success.
Anibal Sanchez won’t be any small task for a Cleveland lineup that has scored three runs or less in just over half of its games so far. Again, that last fact doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it doesn’t give a whole lot of reason to shy away from Sanchez in this spot. Look, Anibal Sanchez is an ace. And he’s really one of the best starting pitchers in baseball by now. He’s only thrown nine innings in two starts this season, despite allowing just three earned runs. And Sanchez will be determined to go deeper into this game at home. Cleveland will muster a couple runs like it almost always does, but I’m leaning toward Sanchez in this battle.
Detroit should in a spot where the Tigers are priced accordingly. But I don’t see nine runs here. Play them low.
Free Pick: Under 8.5 (-110)
2014 YTD: 5-0 +5.00