Detroit Tigers (-101) at Cincinnati Reds (-109, 8 o/u)
Making just his second start of the season, Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.60) will aim for his first win tonight when his Detroit Tigers (34-31, 16-13 Away) visit the the Cincinnati Reds (29-35, 17-13 Home) at Great American Ball Park (7:10 PM Eastern) for the second of a two-game set.
After starting the year on the DL (triceps), Verlander made his first start last week against Cleveland, pitching 5.0 innings and allowing three hits and two runs while striking out two. He left with a no-decision, but reliever Blaine Hardy gave up two runs that put the Tigers on the losing end of a 5-4 scoreline.
“I think it was a good first outing, good first step and I’m sure as we move deeper into the season he’s going to pitch longer, he’s going to probably be sharper, maybe have an off day here or there,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said to the Associated Press. “I think in fairly short order, he’ll be back up to his 110-120 pitches.”
The Reds will counter with Mike Leake (3-4, 4.38 ERA), who is 1-0 with two no-decisions in his last three starts. Last time out, the righty gave up five hits and three runs in five innings of work en route to a 4-3 loss to the Cubs.
After splitting two games in Detroit, the Reds took the first game in Cincy last night (8-4 in extra innings). Todd Frazier hit two home runs, including a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 13th. The loss dropped the Tigers a full five games back of Kansas City for top spot in the AL Central. Even with the victory, the Reds remain 13 games behind the MLB-best Cardinals in the NL Central.
Looking at the trends, three of the last four games in the series have stayed under the O/U. The only time Verlander faced Cincinnati (back in 2012), the game stayed under, as well, as the 2011 Cy Young winner gave up just two runs over six innings. But, given that Verlander is making just his second start and will likely be on a pitch-count, the better value looks like the Detroit moneyline.
Pick: Tigers (-101).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)