A’s at Tigers – ALDS Game One Free Pick

Oakland A’s +180 at Detroit Tigers -185 (Total: 7.5)

Jarrod Parker vs. Justin Verlander

Before we get to tonight’s pick… Braves fans – YES that call was atrocious.  But ten men left on base and three throwing errors cost the game much more than that call did.  Just sayin….

Anyhow, The Oakland A’s enter the postseason about as hot as a team can be.  They stormed through Texas down the stretch to turn the likely number one seed in the playoffs into the first AL Wildcard casualty (and quite possibly Josh Hamilton’s last game in a Texas Ranger uniform).  They won six straight to close the season, and remarkably win the AL West despite being in first for only ONE SINGLE DAY the entire season; the last one.

The story is fantastic, but the reality tonight might be a slightly grim one.  Their “reward” for capturing the #2 seed?  Try opening on the road against Justin Verlander.  Thanks Major League Baseball!  Not only will Jarrod Parker have to contend with his team’s offense likely being restricted by the probable two-time reigning Cy Young winner, he will also have to battle through a ferocious lineup featuring Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and the first triple-crown winner in 47 years, Miguel Cabrera.

Look, the road is littered with broke wagerers who refused to believe in Oakland, so I approach this game and series with some caution.  But objectively, leaving the storyline and “feel-good” nature out of the picture, this series seems to tilt very favorably in the Tigers’ direction.

The Tigers are better in every significant offensive category: their team average is more than twenty points higher, they are scoring .3 more runs per game, striking out nearly two times less, hitting 0.2 more homeruns.  Even the pitching isn’t as tilted in Oakland’s direction as the media lauding their incredible rotation would lead you to believe.  Oakland’s team ERA is only 0.17 lower, and their starters ERA is a push.  The difference is the Tiger bullpen and some of the weaknesses they have shown.

I don’t think the bullpens will matter tonight, because the ball is in the hands of Justin Verlander.  I expect him to dominate this lesser-experienced A’s lineup and to limit them offensively.  On the other side, I love Jarrod Parker.  The kid is fantastic.  But this Tiger lineup is loaded, and finally clicking.  They’ve won 8 of 10 games, and have scored 40 runs in the seven games they played against Oakland this season.

In fact, both teams have scored some runs against each other.  Interesting not a single one of their games was decided by two or less runs.  Everyone had a nice healthy margin (Detroit won the season series 4-3).  Oakland scored 37 runs in the matchups, so they hit as well… just not off Justin Verlander.  Give me the Tigers tonight, both to WIN and to cover the -1.5 runline and a very generous +115 moneyline.

Free Pick:  Detroit Tigers to WIN -180 & Detroit -1.5 (+115)

Chris Scheeren / Author