For the second time in three days, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers will attempt to get a baseball game in. Opening Day in Detroit was pushed back from Thursday to Friday, where the Pirates and Tigers got into a wild one, eventually capped off by a 13-10 win in extras for the Pirates. The game didn’t go without controversy, as the Tigers won the game with a close call at the plate with Castellanos getting in before the tag.
After going to replay, the call was overturned and Castellanos was ruled out. There is supposed to be indisputable visual evidence to overturn calls, and it didn’t look to clear to me. The Tigers were jobbed there, but it’s only one game over the course of a long season. However, let’s be honest here, the Tigers aren’t going to be a postseason team, regardless of what happened on Thursday.
The massive hole on this team was on full display in the opener. The Tigers have struggled with finding a productive bullpen, and it was the bullpen again on Thursday that let them down. They shouldn’t score 10 runs and still lose, but with their pen, that’s the reality of the situation. Maybe not more than 10 runs every day, but the bullpen is going to put a lot of pressure on the offense. The Tigers’ rotation is likely going to get taxed as well.
This isn’t the same Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer combo we seen in Detroit a few years ago. Since then, the rotation has regressed every year. Scherzer left for a fatter contract in Washington, while Verlander was traded late last season. JV went on to finally win a World Series with the Astros and appears poised to help them out again this season. In Detroit, they have a rebuilding phase on their hands. The Tigers added Francisco Liriano in the offseason, but his days of being a major contributor are in the past. Head below for our free Pirates vs. Tigers pick.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers Pick
Trevor Williams (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Michael Fulmer (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Note that the Pirates and Tigers are playing a double-header today. This particular pick is for the early game in the afternoon. Trevor Williams and Michael Fulmer will get afternoon honors on Easter Sunday. Williams is entering his third season at the major league level. His debut in 2016 didn’t go so well, but that’s often the case in the first-year. Williams posted a 7.82 ERA in just seven appearances. His role expanded considerably the following season, as he started 25 games for a 4.07 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. If the pattern holds, Williams should improve some more in 2018. I could see him improving a bit maybe, but something in the 3.90-4.20 ERA range looks accurate for him.
Williams’ ERA in 2017 on the road was 4.96 compared to 3.45 at home. His WHIP was a rather unimpressive 1.50 on the road. In his favor today is his history against the Tigers. It isn’t much of a sample size, but in 23 at-bats, he’s allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk. Fulmer busted on the scene as a rookie in 2016, fooling opposing hitters and breaking scoreless records along the way.
He’s the best piece of the puzzle that the Tigers have. Fulmer slipped some last season, falling from a 3.06 ERA to a 3.86 ERA in 2017. It’s going to be interesting to see which way he goes this season. If he doesn’t perform, the Tigers are going to have a real problem on their hands. Can they depend on Jordan Zimmermann to stay healthy? Doubt it. Fulmer dealt with injuries of his own last season, but he is dangerous when healthy. In any case, he should be able to contain the Pirates on Sunday.
PICK: TIGERS (-115)