After two quick losses to begin August, I took some time off to get back on track this week. The Tigers did not have the easiest weekend and they will be happy for a change of scenery after losing twice in extra innings to the Blue Jays up in Canada. Detroit lost in 10 innings on Saturday before saddling up to play 19 on Sunday. The game was the second 19 inning game played in as many days across Major League Baseball after Boston and Los Angeles Angels’ double header (plus) affair on Saturday. So while, yes, Detroit will be eager to get to Pittsburgh, it does not mean the Tigers are necessarily in a favorable spot on the road against another team in the thick of a Central division race. The Pirates sit 2.5 games back in the National Leagues Central Division. Yet they are still fetching plus money at home.
Pittsburgh will stay at home after losing in consecutive games at PNC Park to the lowly San Diego Padres. Unlike Detroit, Pittsburgh won’t travel ahead of a quick turnaround with a Monday game, but the Pirates are not playing their best baseball. And it is no secret that they really miss their MVP Andrew McCutchen. ‘Cutch has been prolonging a disabled list stint after cracking a rib six games ago. The reigning NL MVP has not been in the lineup since and the offense has only generated five runs in the last three games without that man who leads the team in just about every important offensive category.
A struggling offense won’t like seeing Justin Verlander on Monday, especially after the start he put together his last time out. Every time Verlander has a good outing these days, we’re all quick to assume it’s the turning point in his season that everyone expects. So I say this with caution, but I think it’s possible we’re seeing his 180. The former Cy Young has thrown four straight quality starts and has given up just two runs in his last 15 innings. The two runs he gave up last start came on solo shots at Yankee Stadium. With David Price in town, Verlander knows his spot in a playoff rotation isn’t a forgone conclusion. And with Anibal Sanchez on the mend, there’s no better time for him to start stepping up.
The Pirates are feeling the red-hot Royals on their tails more than ever. And with KC threatening to overtake Detroit on Monday I think the Tigers come out and play desperate. Vegas seems to have this inkling too, juicing a road side coming off a spot as unfortunate as the Tigers are. But that doesn’t mean to avoid the play. Detroit beats up on Jeff Locke and wins easily.
Free Pick: Detroit (-107)
YTD: 28-21-2 +2.63