The beginning of the MLB season was a profitable one for my free MLB picks as I opened up 2-1 on Friday and will carry a one-unit profit into this week’s action.
I had the Cubs over the Brewers, and Kyle Hendricks ensured we won that pick. Hendricks was dominant in his season-opening debut, hurling a complete-game shutout en route to a 3-0 Cubs win to notch us a single-unit profit.
We gained another unit in a matchup between the Tigers and Reds where I had the under 9. It didn’t come easy, however, as the under barely hit despite the Tigers scoring just once as the Reds scored seven times in that one. The largest factor for the under was Sonny Gray dominating the Tigers, and he did just that to help us grab another unit.
We gave one back later in the evening, however, as a close game between the D-backs and Padres was broken up by San Diego’s Eric Hosmer and the Padres beat the D-backs 7-2 in a game where I had the road underdog Diamondbacks at +134.
I missed my first underdog of the season, but I’ll take the profit and run to be sure.
Season Record: 2-1
Now let’s take a look at this free MLB pick featuring the Tigers vs. Royals from Comerica Park in Detroit!
Tigers vs. Royals Betting Odds
- Tigers (-124)
- Royals (+114)
- Tigers -1.5 (+150)
- Royals +1.5 (-170)
- Over 10 (-103)
- Under 10 (-117)
Tigers vs. Royals MLB Pick Breakdown
Pitching Matchup: Fulmer (DET) vs. Montgomery (KC)
In what will go down as his first meaningful MLB action in 22 months, the Tigers will send former ace Michael Fulmer to the mound coming off spring 2019 Tommy John surgery.
Fulmer will likely be on a pitch and/or innings limit in this one, however he was sharp in his most recent tune up, striking out four as part of two scoreless innings in an exhibition against the Reds last week.
The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year, Fulmer is the owner of a career 3.81 ERA/3.95 FIP and while his command is solid with a career 2.53 BB/9 mark, his 7.03 K/9 clip leaves plenty to be desired.
Fulmer dealt with a knee issue while making 24 starts in 2018, but his 4.69 ERA and 4.52 FIP from that season were the worst marks of his three-year MLB career to this point.
In nine starts and 56.2 innings against the division-rival Royals, Fulmer owns a 4.13 ERA and has gone 2-5 in the process.
It’s unclear who will pitch after Fulmer in this one, but the Tigers bullpen should get its fair share of work in this one.
Mike Montgomery began last season with the Cubs but was traded to the Royals where he was inserted into the starting rotation after pitching largely in relief as a Cub.
Neither spot worked out terribly well for the left-hander as he posted a 5.67 ERA in 27 innings out of the Cubs’ bullpen before posting a 4.64 ERA/5.23 FIP in 64 innings as a starter with the Royals.
The 2019 season was mostly the exception to the rule, however, as Montgomery is the owner of a 3.83 ERA/4.33 FIP in his big-league career, although he too lacks strikeout ability with a 6.91 career K/9 and doesn’t have the command Fulmer possesses with a mediocre 3.41 BB/9 for his career, although he did drop that mark to 2.83 a season ago.
In 18.2 career innings against the Tigers including three starts and four appearances, Montgomery owns a 3.38 ERA and an 11.1 K/9 clip that registers as his best mark against any opponent.
You could make a case for praising or punishing the Tigers’ offense in their weekend set in Cincinnati.
Tigers hitters struck out in a whopping 43.8% of their plate appearances over the weekend, but held tough long enough to get to the Reds bullpen for some clutch home runs and took two of three from the heavily-favored Reds.
C.J. Cron – brought in to help an offense that ranked 29th with a .148 ISO last season – hit two homers in the series as well as a double. As a team, the Tigers hit six homers in the series which sits in a four-way tie for second-most in the bigs through the first few games of the season.
Plenty of teams are going to struggle against the front three in the Reds’ rotation including Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer, and while the strikeouts need to be cut down, the Tigers held in there long enough and teed off on the Reds’ bullpen.
It’s a good start for an offense that finished near the bottom of the league in just about every statistical category in 2019.
The Tigers weren’t the only team to struggle with punchouts in 2019 as the Royals opened up their season by striking out 14 times against Indians right-hander Shane Bieber while their 38.1% K-rate in the early going is better than only the Tigers at this point.
The Royals were unable to get anything going for the remainder of the series either as they finished the three-game set with a .158 average, a 32 wRC+ and just two homers in 105 plate appearances.
While the Royals’ offense holds some intriguing names in Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Jorge Soler, they also lost Hunter Dozier who broke out in a big way last season.
Last season, the Royals’ offense was only marginally better than the Tigers as Kansas City finished 27th with a .302 wOBA and 26th with a .154 ISO.
After a tough go of it again last season, this Royals offense is coming out of the gates slow again this time around.
Needless to say, both bullpens struggled mightily a season ago.
The Tigers were the slightly better bullpen by virtue of their 24th-ranked 4.94 ERA, however the Royals’ 4.55 FIP and 2.5 fWAR from their ‘pen were far superior to the Tigers’ numbers in those departments.
For their part, the Tigers’ bullpen features plenty of unknowns as they allow some prospects and organization depth pieces a shot at earning a full-time role in the bullpen moving forward.
Closer Joe Jimenez saved the final two games of the weekend set with the Reds while eighth inning arm Buck Farmer pitched a scoreless inning in both of those games himself coming off a breakout 3.72 ERA/3.88 FIP and 9.71 K/9 from last season.
After that, it’s a no-name group looking to make a name for itself moving forward while they pitched 4.09 ERA ball across 11 frames to open the season.
The Royals’ bullpen is similar in the sense that few roles are safe.
Ian Kennedy remains the closer coming off a dynamite 3.41 ERA/2.99 FIP to go along with a 10.37 K/9 clip in his first full season as a reliever. Kennedy worked two scoreless frames over the weekend.
After that, it’s a pair of veteran reclamation projects in Greg Holland and Trevor Rosenthal followed by several arms looking to earn a full-time role themselves.
The Royals’ bullpen began their season with 14.2 innings of 4.30 ERA ball over the weekend, but they’ll look to cut down on their 4.91 BB/9 in that stretch as well.
As we get into the back end of the rotations, it can be more difficult to know what to expect from the starters.
That’s especially true with Fulmer who we haven’t seen pitch a meaningful inning in some time while Montgomery struggled in his first full-time gig as a starter with the Royals.
Both teams were dominated by way of the strikeout over the weekend, but the Tigers are the team that produced far more offense.
The Royals were going to be in tough against a quality Indians pitching staff, but Cincinnati boasts a pretty darn good staff of their own and the Tigers flexed plenty of muscle in that series.
To me, pitchers are ahead of hitters right now, which makes me less concerned about a questionable Tigers’ bullpen, especially against an offense that’s struggled mightily in the early going.
We aren’t going to see the Tigers as -125 favorites very often this season, but the Royals are one opponent that could be considered worse than the Tigers in the American League.
As a result, I’ll roll with the better offense at the moment and go with the Tigers as home favorites in this one.